Tony Smith (rugby league, born 1967)

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Tony Smith
Tony Smith (cropped).JPG
Smith in 2008
Personal information
Full nameTony Smith
Born (1967-01-24) 24 January 1967 (age 52)
New South Wales, Australia
Playing information
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1987–91 Illawarra Steelers 40 9 0 0 36
1992–95 St. George Dragons 48 4 0 0 16
1996 Workington Town 5 1 0 0 4
Total 93 14 0 0 56
Coaching information
Years Team Gms W D L W%
2001–03 Huddersfield Giants
2004–07 Leeds Rhinos 134 98 3 33 73
2009–17 Warrington Wolves 225 152 3 70 68
Total 359 250 6 103 70
Years Team Gms W D L W%
2000 Japan 3 0 0 3 0
2007 Great Britain 4 4 0 0 100
2008–09 England 14 6 0 8 43
Source: [1][2][3]

Tony Smith (born 24 January 1967) is a former rugby league coach and player.[4] He has been head coach of the Huddersfield Giants, Leeds Rhinos and the Warrington Wolves in the Super League and the England national rugby league team. He is the younger brother of fellow rugby league coach Brian Smith and uncle to former Tonga national team coach, Rohan Smith.[5]


Smith was born in Lismore, New South Wales, Australia.

He holds a British passport.

Playing career[edit]

Tony Smith played rugby league with the Illawarra Steelers, for whom he made 40 appearances and scored 9 tries, as well as the St. George Dragons for whom he played 48 games under the coaching of his older brother Brian Smith, including the 1992 NSWRL season's grand final, in which he played from the interchange bench.

Workington Town[edit]

Tony Smith's involvement with British Rugby League began by finishing his playing career in 1996 with a spell at Workington Town in the inaugural Super League season. His initial time at Workington was hampered by achilles injury suffered two seasons previous, made all the worse by Workington's poor form which saw them relegated to National League One.[6] He also notoriously lived above a Workington fish 'n' chip shop with his wife, commenting "every morning I trudged to training and swore we'd never come back to this country."[6] His most notable on-field contribution was on his début as he helped the club to an 18-18 draw with Halifax Blue Sox, one of only five points that the club secured in 1996 as they finished bottom of Super League. Smith's high bomb led to the side's third try, scored by Wayne Kitchin.

Coaching career[edit]

In 2000 he was appointed the head coach of the Japan national rugby league team for the Emerging Nations tournament. Unfortunately his spell wasn't successful as Japan failed and lost all three games in the Tournament.

Huddersfield Giants[edit]

After returning home to Australia after finishing his playing career with Workington, Smith turned to coaching and applied for the job of Super League club Huddersfield Giants in September 2001.[7] He first season in charge saw Huddersfield relegated to National League One, which consequently followed their dreadful start to the season losing 13 games in a row, a record number of consecutive defeats for a coach who held on to his job in British Rugby League.[8]

Conversely, Huddersfield returned to Super League the following year after not losing a single game throughout the National League One season. This culminated in their Grand Final win against Leigh Centurions which secured the team's promotion. In their return season to Super League in 2003 Huddersfield avoided relegation, finishing in 10th place which at the time was by far the club's best Super League finish.

Leeds Rhinos[edit]

Smith was appointed head coach of the Leeds Rhinos in a surprise move in November 2003 as the club decided to move incumbent Daryl Powell into an upstairs role for two years from the start of the 2004 season.

He guided the Leeds Rhinos to their 2004 Super League Grand Final victory against the Bradford Bulls, their first Championship in 32 years, and went on to beat the Canterbury Bulldogs in the 2005 World Club Challenge at Elland Road. In 2005 Leeds made both the Challenge Cup Final and 2005 Super League Grand Final, but were unsuccessful in both matches, losing to Hull F.C. and the Bradford Bulls respectively. Smith was however named Super League coach of the year for 2005 and signed a contract extension to the end of the 2006 season.

The Leeds Rhinos failed to win a trophy in the 2006 season, suffering defeat at the Semi-Final stage of the Challenge Cup and losing out to the Warrington Wolves in 2006's Super League XI Play-Offs.

Smith secured his second Super League championship with victory in the 2007 Super League Grand Final, his final game as coach of Leeds Rhinos.

Great Britain[edit]

Smith was announced as the successor to Brian Noble and became the full-time coach of Great Britain. He saw out his Leeds contract until the end of the 2007 season and combined the GB coaching role with that of performance director and headed up the Rugby Football League's technical department at Leeds Metropolitan University.

His first game in charge of Great Britain was a victory over France. The 3-0 whitewash of New Zealand followed with a 20-14 victory at Huddersfield, a 44-0 thrashing of the Kiwis in the 2nd test at Hull and a final test win at the JJB by 28 points to 22. Leeds Rhinos players contributed hugely to these victories including captain Jamie Peacock, half-backs Rob Burrow and Danny McGuire, 2nd Row Gareth Ellis and centre Keith Senior. As this was the last test series as a Great Britain side on home soil. Smith then led the England side into the 2008 World Cup. Only overseas touring sides now use the Great Britain name.

At the end of the year, Tony was named the RLIF Coach of the Year for a successful 2007 season.


Smith became a naturalized British citizen on 8 September 2008 at a ceremony in Huddersfield. He coached England in the 2008 Rugby League World Cup, making the semi-finals.

Warrington Wolves[edit]

On 5 March 2009, Warrington Wolves announced that Smith was to take over as their new head coach while continuing to coach England on a part-time basis. His first game in charge of Warrington was a 14-20 defeat at home to former club Leeds Rhinos.

On 29 August 2009, he led Warrington to their first Challenge Cup Final since 1990, and ultimately the team's first final victory since 1974, beating his former club the Huddersfield Giants 25-16. Smith coached the Warrington Wolves to their 2010 Challenge Cup Final victory over the Leeds Rhinos, their second consecutive Cup victory.[9] and there are groups on Facebook about smith [1]

Smith coached the Warrington Wolves to their first League Leaders' Shield in the Super League era in 2011 and the Warrington Wolves became the first team in 6-years to break 1,000 points scored during one season (the last team to do so being Smith's Leeds Rhinos, along with St. Helens and the Bradford Bulls in the same season).

In 2012 Warrington Wolves won the 2012 Challenge Cup Final after a 35-18 win against the Leeds Rhinos.[10]

After leading Warrington Wolves to the Super League Grand Final in 2012, 2013 and 2016, and also his second League Leaders' Shield in 2016, his spell as Warrington Wolves coach ended in 2017 when he departed the club at the end of the 2017 Super League season; at the time he was the league's longest-serving coach.


  1. ^
  2. ^ Rugby League Project Coaching
  3. ^ Rugby League Project
  4. ^ "Smith handed British citizenship". 2008-09-07. Retrieved 2009-08-02.
  5. ^ Rej, Arindam (2006-03-26). "0-60 in 80 minutes". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-11-25.
  6. ^ a b "Tony Smith: Out of the frying pan into the fire for 'our' blue-chip leader". The Independent. London. 2008-10-12. Retrieved 2010-05-25.
  7. ^ "Super League Team-by-team guide". UK: Telegraph Media Group Limited. 1 March 2001. Retrieved 10 October 2010.
  8. ^ McRae, Donald (2007-10-23). "I've got a chance to do something special". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2010-05-25.
  9. ^ "Leeds 6-30 Warrington". BBC. 2010-08-28. Retrieved 2010-08-28.
  10. ^ "Warrington Wolves Are Challenge Cup Winners 2012!". Warrington Wolves Official Site. 25 August 2012. Archived from the original on 17 December 2013. Retrieved 28 August 2012.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
James Lowes
Warrington Wolves

Succeeded by
Steve Price
Preceded by
Brian Noble
Great Britain/England

Succeeded by
Steve McNamara
Preceded by
Daryl Powell
Leeds Rhinos

Succeeded by
Brian McClennan
Preceded by
John Kear
Huddersfield Giants

Succeeded by
Jon Sharp