Former England coach Tony Smith is back in rugby league after being appointed as the successor to fellow Australian Tim Sheens at Hull KR.
Smith, 52, had been out of the game since leaving Warrington at the end of the 2017 campaign, when he was the longest-serving coach in Super League.
Smith, who was England coach from 2006-09, continued to live in Yorkshire and set up a consultancy centred on a mentoring role with both the Premier League and the League Managers’ Association.
Now he says he is ready to return to his first love and will take up the Rovers job immediately after being appointed initially until the end of the season. His first game will be against Wigan at KCOM Craven Park on Sunday.
“It’s a great opportunity for myself to get back in and start coaching again,” Smith said. “I’ve had a good break and I’m very excited to be working with the talent available at Rovers.
“I’m keen to get on board with the players and understand where they’re at and see where I can help them. It’s been a whirlwind couple of days for myself but I’m very excited about the opportunity.”
Smith takes over a team second from bottom of Super League and facing the real threat of relegation after winning just five of their 16 matches so far.
“With the talent available, there’s a good, strong chance of climbing the ladder to a place which is far greater to where we are at this moment,” Smith added. “I’m looking forward to that journey and development of players.
“I’ve had a lot of experience over the years at all the clubs that I’ve been at, where they haven’t been in ideal situations when I’ve taken over.
“They ended up in strong positions once I left and I look forward to doing exactly that in this period of time.
“There’s a lot of players that I admire within the team, what they do, but it’s now up to me to get the best out of them, as well as getting the best out of one another. That’s what a team is about.”
Smith’s appointment is part of a shake-up of the backroom team at Hull KR, who recently appointed John Bastian as head of youth and will make Danny McGuire their recruitment manager when he hangs up his boots at the end of the season.
A former player with St George Illawarra, Smith began his coaching career with Huddersfield in 2000 after he paid his own fare to fly to England for an interview.
He guided the Giants back to Super League before resigning and then spent four seasons with Leeds, taking them to two Grand Final victories, before being appointed as coach of Great Britain.
Smith took out UK citizenship, shortly before taking England to the 2008 World Cup, and stepped down from the post at the end of 2009 to return to full-time club coaching after being appointed by Warrington.
He steered the Wolves to their first Challenge Cup triumph for 35 years in his first season with victory over his old club Huddersfield and helped them to two more Wembley triumphs, in 2010 and 2012.
Warrington also won the 2011 League Leaders’ Shield under Smith, who took them to a maiden Grand Final in 2012 and two other Old Trafford title deciders.
But a Super League title with the Wolves eluded him and the club decided on a parting of the ways.