Tony Smith has revealed giving Brad Takairangi a roving role was part of the thinking behind his full-back and wing choices against Leigh Centurions.
Takairangi was named at centre but started the game on the wing in a surprise move by Smith as he reshuffled his side following the loss of Adam Quinlan and Jordan Abdull to injury.
It proved to be an inspired decision in the 19th minute when Takairangi got above Matty Russell to lay on a try for Greg Minikin.
The talented utility man switched to full-back later in the game with Ben Crooks reverting to the wing, with the pair interchanging during the second half as Hull KR claimed a nervy win.
Smith wanted to get the best out of Takairangi while minimising disruption within the team.
“For him and Crooksie to share some of the role at the back in attack,” the Rovers head coach explained ahead of Friday’s game against Wigan Warriors.
“We want Takas to turn up all over the park at times and it probably caused the least adjustment to our team.
“Greg was able to maintain his position in the centres and Crooksie was able to revert to right wing which is where he has spent most of his season.
“It allowed Takas to roam around and turn up for some really important plays, such as the pass to Shaun Kenny-Dowall who passed to Ryan Hall to win the game. He was playing in the roving full-back role.
“There’s no problems for Takas with catching on the wing. He’s a smart footballer and knows how to play it. He was probably a little rusty in some respects in terms of little bits of positional play but he knows.
“For him to have a mismatch over Matty Russell was also a really big play for us. I wish we had exploited that a little more and put some more high balls over him.
“There were a whole lot of reasons behind the rationale.”
Crooks got the nod at full-back from the start at Leigh Sports Village and was called into action just seconds in when he pulled off a try-saving tackle on Russell.
Ben Crooks claims a high kick
(Image: Laurent SELLES Laurent SELLES / Catalans Dragons/SWpix.com)
The 28-year-old had a busy night but, one mistake that led to Leigh’s last try aside, he was safe under the high ball.
“I thought Crooksie did a really good job at full-back, for most of it,” said Smith.
“He came up with some terrific defensive tackles. He came up with a fumble coming out of his own end when the ball was knocked out of his grasp, which is something you might say happens to Crooksie from time to time.
“The only other error for him was a spiralling bomb that came down and he put down, at what was probably a fairly crucial time.
“But having coached and coached against Sam Tomkins who I regard as one of the best full-backs I’ve seen and been involved with, he put four of Jordan Abdull’s spiralling bombs down about three weeks ago so I’m kind of OK that Ben dropped one.
“I just tried to put that into a bit of perspective.”