Opposition Overview: Hull KR

Picture by Jack Wray/Super League Europe/via SWpix.com - 06/03/2021 - Super League Season 2021 Pre Season Location Video Shoot and Stills Photography Portraits. Hull KR - Brad Takairangi

Leeds Rhinos travel to the east coast for round four the Betfred Super League as Richard Agar’s side take on Hull Kingston Rovers at Hull College Craven Park on Friday, kick off 6pm.

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2021 so far..

Following a disappointing finish to the 2020 season which saw the finish in twelfth spot, KR made a number of changes ahead of the new campaign. Twelve players were released from Tony Smith’s side and the club recruited experienced NRL talent. The signing of Ryan Hall was a major addition, with the former Leeds winger joining up with former Rhinos coach Smith, who gave him his Leeds debut. Props Korbin Sims and Albert Vete were signed from St George Illawarra and Melbourne Storm – Korbin following in the footsteps of his older brother Ashton by moving to Super League. As Robbie Mulhern departed to Warrington, back rower Luis Johnson was sent in the opposite direction, having spent the majority of last season on loan with the Robins and Muizz Mustapha loan deal was extended this season.

Only three rounds of the new season have been played but already Hull KR have been involved in two Golden Point shoot outs. On the opening day of the season, a late fightback against Catalans, thanks to a hat trick from Hall, earned Rovers a draw after 80 minutes but James Maloney made sure it was the Dragons that went home with the points.

Hull KR’s Jordan Abdull kicks the game-winning drop goal against Huddersfield. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

Smith’s side were then pushed aside by the Champions St Helens, who nilled Rovers at the Totally Wicked Stadium, but against fellow strugglers Huddersfield Giants, the boot of Jordan Abdull earned Hull KR their first points of the campaign. An error by the Giants from kick off gave Ben Crooks the world record for the quickest try scored in Super League; the centre touching down after only 15 seconds. Crooks and Mikey Lewis added tries to the scoreboard to help the home side go into half time with a 18-4 lead but despite a Kane Linnett try in the second half, Huddersfield fought back to level the game at 24 all, before Abdull, who had failed to slot a drop goal in the extra 20 minutes of extra time played against Castleford in the Challenge Cup the week before, stepped up to give Rovers the win.


2021 Squad


First Four Fixtures


Key Player

Hull KR’s Shaun Kenny-Dowall is tackled by St Helens’ Theo Fages. Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com

One man to watch out for on Friday night is centre and club captain Shaun Kenny-Dowall, who earned the honour of leading Hull KR after only one season on the east coast. The New Zealand international was impressive throughout his first year under Tony Smith, playing in every game and scoring three tries.

This season, with a wing partner of Ryan Hall, both former Sydney Roosters players have been quick to strike up a partnership. Both Kenny-Dowall and Hall have made the most carries and the most metres for Hull KR already in 2021 and Kenny-Dowall also has the most offloads already with 12 (four more than Hull FC’s Carlos Tuimavave in second place).


New Signings

Ins

  • Ryan Hall (Sydney Roosters)
  • Albert Vete (Melbourne Storm)
  • Korbin Sims (St George-Illawarra Dragons)
  • Brad Takairangi (Parramatta Eels)
  • Luis Johnson (Warrington Wolves)
  • Muizz Mustapha (Leeds Rhinos, loan)

Outs

  • Jamie Ellis (Leigh Centurions)
  • Matty Gee (Leigh Centurions)
  • Ryan Brierley (Leigh Centurions)
  • Nathaniel Peteru (Leigh Centurions)
  • Robbie Mulhern (Warrington Wolves)
  • Mitch Garbutt (Toulouse Olympique)
  • Dan Murray (Halifax)
  • Will Oakes (Dewsbury Rams)
  • Elliot Wallis (Bradford Bulls, loan)
  • Harvey Livett (loan from Warrington Wolves finished)
  • Kyle Trout (Released)
  • Weller Hauraki (Released)

The Coach

Rhinos fans will know all about Tony Smith and his achievements in Super League and internationally.

Smith went into coaching after playing under his older brother Brian at Illawarra Steelers. He played at Workington Town in the first Super League season in 1996 before moving to coach Japan’s Rugby League side in 2000. He returned to Super League to coach Huddersfield Giants in 2001 and helped promote them back into the top division in 2003 before taking over as Leeds head coach in 2004. He guided the Rhinos to their first Grand Final win in his first year and followed it up with the World Club Challenge months later before going on to lift the Grand Final trophy once again in 2007.

Hull KR coach Tony Smith. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

After coaching Great Britain and then England to a semi final finish in the 2008 World Cup, he returned to domestic coaching with Warrington Wolves, where he spent twelve years. Over that time, he won two Challenge Cups and two League Leaders’ Shields, as well as leading the club to four Grand Final appearances. He was replaced by Steve Price in 2018.

Only a year later, midway through the 2019 Super League campaign, Smith was back in coaching with Hull KR, taking over from Tim Sheens, and saved the club from the threat of relegation.


Returning Faces

A number of players in both Leeds and Hull KR’s squads could face their former clubs on Friday night.

Four players in Tony Smith’s side came through Leeds’ Academy programme, including Ryan Hall, who won six Grand Final titles, two Challenge Cups, one World Club Challenge and two League Leaders’ Shield with the Rhinos. Elliot Minchella, who is vice captain of Hull KR, started his career at Leeds before joining Bradford Bulls in 2015, and Jimmy Keinhorst also came through the Rhinos Academy and went on to win a Grand Final ring in 2015. Muizz Mustapha is currently on loan from Leeds.

Matt Parcell is the only other player in Hull KR’s ranks that has pulled on the blue and amber jersey. Signing for Leeds in 2017, the hooker has an impressive first season, winning the Grand Final and earning himself a Dream Team appearance. He helped Leeds survive the Qualifiers in 2018 but in 2019, he was loaned out to Hull KR as the Rhinos brought back Shaun Lunt. Parcell signed permanently with Rovers for the 2020 season.

Leeds second rower James Donaldson is the only Rhinos player to have played for Rovers in the current squad. Over four years, Donaldson featured in the 2015 Challenge Cup Final squad that lost to Leeds and was also part of the team that helped Rovers come straight back to Super League following relegation in 2016. He played 79 times and scored 60 points before being released in 2018.


Last Game vs Leeds at Craven Park

After meeting in the quarter finals of the Challenge Cup only six days before, Leeds and Hull KR went head to head in the Betfred Super League; the Rhinos claiming a 41-16 result. Flying winger Ash Handley added to his try tally with two tries against Rovers while Alex Mellor got his first try in Leeds colours. James Donaldson touched down against his former side and Luke Briscoe, Richie Myler and Rhyse Martin extended the Rhinos’ scoreline to 41 points. Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Ryan Brierley and Jimmy Keinhorst provided the only response from Hull KR.