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Men’s rugby league We still have something to play for, claims Hull KR coach

HULL KR coach Tony Smith insists 2020 is not a write-off as Super League’s bottom side seek the boost of claiming local bragging rights in the Hull derby.

Following contact with someone who subsequently tested positive for Covid-19, Smith had to self-isolate and watch from home as his side lost to Castleford and Wakefield in the space of four days to fall to the foot of the table.

The disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and the withdrawal of Toronto Wolfpack means Rovers are spared the threat of relegation, and Smith is keen to build for the future as his side prepare to face sixth-placed Hull FC tomorrow.

“No, this year isn’t a write-off,” said Smith, who has now twice tested negative for Covid-19 but must wait until Monday before being allowed back to work.

“We’ve learned a whole lot about a lot of players. We’ve got a lot of young guys coming through that have gained some great experience — some hard experiences and some tough lessons along the way — but it’s been great for them to get out there and find out what it’s about at the highest level.

“To turn this programme around at Hull KR is not going to be an overnight thing, it’s a gradual thing that’s going to take time and we’re trying to make sure the young talent coming through is going to be there for the future as well as identifying some players that can come in and help us in the immediate.”

Assistant David Hodgson will continue to take charge of the team in Smith’s absence as Rovers seek a fourth win of the season in a Hull derby staged in St Helens.

“We’ve got to dust ourselves off, [it’s] probably a lack of confidence at the moment so hopefully the derby gets everybody up and ready to go,” Smith added.

“Everybody realises the importance of the derby, it’s bragging rights till the next time you play and that’s going to be a long time after this one so we’d love to finish on a high.”

Hull KR forward Elliot Minchella admits a fast start is vital as the players are determined to avoid the wooden spoon.

“It’s not something we want to be tagged with, we don’t want to be known as the team that finished bottom, not at all,” Minchella said.

“Too many times we’ve let the other team score three or four tries before we’ve even got off the bus and that can’t be done this week.”

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