Father's pain is Smith's gain

As a young boy walking alongside his father as they left suburban rugby league grounds dotted throughout Sydney, you can only imagine the language Rohan Smith would have been subjected to by disgruntled fans and armchair experts.

Spitting torrents of abuse about decisions made, players chosen and general rugby league nous, it was more hatred than any son should experience on 'Bring your kid to work' day.

Some of it may have even come from opposition supporters.

Being the son of legendary coach Brian Smith no doubt had its pitfalls but his father believes that what Rohan witnessed in those early days will hold him in good stead for a head coaching position in future.

Despite being still just 33 years of age, Rohan Smith has joined the Titans' coaching staff in 2015 with 13 years of coaching experience behind him and a family association synonymous with the game both in Australia and England.

As part of the Titans' overhaul Smith has joined Terry Matterson as one of new head coach Neil Henry's two assistants, the latest adventure following various stints with the Warriors, Knights, Panthers and Roosters as well as two seasons in London with the Harlequins club.

When Rohan was born in 1981 his father was the under-23s coach at South Sydney and only just embarking on a career that would amass more than 600 top grade games but witness four grand final defeats from as many appearances.

He drew praise when his teams were winning and harsh criticism in defeat but Smith told NRL.com that Rohan's exposure to the "other side" of coaching has enabled him to build a solid platform from which to forge his own name.

"I like the pathway that he's chosen. He hasn't been in too much of a hurry and it probably has a bit of a benefit over guys who are too keen and too quick to want to be a head coach," Smith said.

"He's seen what it's like to be on the other side from being a son of a head coach and the issues and stuff that he's got to deal with so he understands pretty well that getting there eventually is sometimes a lot better than getting there very quickly.

"Some of it is about footy knowledge and experience in the game and all that sort of stuff but a lot of it, and what I'm proudest about, is the way he's developed his own life as a man. He's done some hard yards and he's done some easy yards as well but it's just helped him to turn into a pretty good bloke."

Rohan himself concedes that he was more interested in getting the best out of his teammates rather than "ripping in" himself and would often debate tactics with junior coaches coming through the grades.

His first coaching opportunity came with the University of Wollongong's junior teams when after two shoulder reconstructions he made a move to the sidelines and came up against his first coaching conundrum.

"He had this kid in his team who was massive and fast and had red hair," his father recalls. "I said, 'What's the problem?' and he said that he didn't know whether to play him in the front row or on the wing. I said to him, 'They're the kind of problems every coach is looking for.'"

That kid by the name of Ben Creagh has now played almost 250 first grade games for the Dragons while Smith sets out to build on his family's vast array of football knowledge on the Gold Coast.

"I had a few arguments with coaches as a young fella. I probably didn't apply myself as I should have towards training hard when I was young and I was always thinking more from the coaching side of things," Rohan explained.

"Talking to my uncle Tony a few times, he reminds me that when I was nine or 10 we'd be talking footy on the way home after NRL games and that's probably where I can first remember thinking about the coaching side of things.

"I've seen [Dad] go through a lot of tough times that's for sure but anything that doesn't kill you makes you stronger and as a character as long as you're making decisions for the right reasons and you're doing the right thing for the club that you're working for then whatever the repercussions from the public or the media sometimes you've got to live with. I understand that's part of the role."

Smith first met Henry when the former Cowboys and Raiders head coach played under Brian Smith at Hull in the late 1980s and has been entrusted with the defensive responsibilities at the Titans.

Considering only five teams leaked more points than the Titans in 2014 it's a not insignificant task but Smith insists that there is a resolve within the playing group that he is excited to be working with.

"I've got some ideas that I've accumulated over the years but it's a matter of finding the right mix for the players that you've got," he said.

"There was a good attitude and ethic I thought last year, they scrambled hard a lot of the time, but we're working hard on being more of a unit and working with the guys around us.

"Neil's certainly instilling a good discipline and work ethic towards ripping into training and doing things right, being accountable for their actions and turning up every day to get better, that's a big focus at the moment.

"As for in the season, I think the ethic the boys are working on at the moment will cross over into performance."