Tony Smith is not one for checking the Super League table but he can already feel the impact of Hull KR removing themselves from the relegation dogfight.
Rovers were tipped to struggle again this year after spending recent seasons battling to avoid the drop.
However, Smith’s side have defied those expectations to become genuine play-off contenders.
More importantly, the Robins removed the threat of relegation early which has allowed the club to plan for 2022 with confidence.
KR’s resurgence has not gone unnoticed with Smith seeing a major shift in the way players are viewing the club.
“I don’t know whether we’re in or out and it doesn’t really matter at the moment,” he said on the play-off situation.
“But what I do know is that we’re not down in the dogfight of relegation.
“I was confident that we wouldn’t be in that dogfight back at the start of the season. As to how far up the competition table we can go, who knows?
“We’re trying to go as far up there as we can and as far away from that dogfight as possible. We’ve already benefited from that enormously.
“We’re seeing ourselves in a different way than we would have 12 months ago. Others are too.
“Just the interest in players wanting to re-sign here or players wanting to sign here has changed remarkably, the quality of the people making enquiries to us.
“When you’re in that dogfight occasionally an agent will ring you after ringing every other club and say, ‘We’re down to the bottom of the barrel now, do you want this player?’
“That’s changed for us already in half a season which is quite remarkable.”
On paper, Sunday’s game against Leigh Centurions is the perfect opportunity for KR to boost their play-off chances.
The Centurions have yet to win this year, losing all 14 games in Super League to leave them on the brink of relegation.
Smith is taking no notice of Leigh’s record as he looks to guide his team to their first win since beating Wigan Warriors at the DW Stadium in mid-June.
“It’ll be a tough one over there,” he said.
Ryan Hall (5) of Hull KR celebrates a try
(Image: David Greaves/News Images)
“They’re desperate and will throw everything at it. They’ve been under the pump for a while but they play some good footy in each of the games they play.
“They’re a dangerous team – a wounded animal is a dangerous animal. They’re wounded at the moment.
“They’re changing all the time. They’re bringing people in on loans, new signings and are suffering with suspensions as well. Some of it has been enforced on them and some of it is just how it is for them.
“It’s going to be dangerous for us.”
The teams have met once this year with Rovers running out 40-16 winners at Craven Park in May, when Leigh gave the hosts a fright before falling away.
Smith believes the Centurions will be a different proposition in front of their own fans.
He added: “I think they’ve caused just about every team they’ve played some problems at different stages, it’s just how long they can sustain it for and how long we are able to sustain them. That’s the contest.
“Every game is a dangerous game and we don’t take anything for granted. We’ve got a few changes in our squad this week and so have they.
“It’s at their home ground which is always a hostile place to go. It’s a compact ground and people are on top of you and are very passionate there.
“We’re going to have to be on our toes.”