HULL KR have named former Warrington Wolves, Leeds Rhinos and Great Britain boss Tony Smith as their new head coach until the end of the season.

York City Knights boss James Ford had been heavily linked with the role and speculation remains that he could be a target to take over during the winter.

In a move which was widely expected, Rovers announced late last night that previous boss Tim Sheens had left the club, with the team second bottom of Super League having lost 11 of their 16 games. They are also out of the Challenge Cup.

A statement said: "Hull Kingston Rovers are delighted to announce the arrival of Tony Smith as the club’s new head coach initially until the end of the 2019 campaign.

"The 52-year-old – twice a Grand Final and Challenge Cup winner with Leeds Rhinos and Warrington Wolves respectively – arrives at KCOM Craven Park with immediate effect, and is given a clear brief of helping the club climb the Super League ladder.

"Eighteen months on from his last role with the Wolves, ex-Great Britain and England coach Smith, who also lifted the World Club Challenge with the Rhinos, is ready to return to the English game to guide the Robins until the campaign’s climax.

"The club have acted quickly to appoint Smith.

"He exclusively told Hull KR TV, 'It’s a great opportunity for myself to get back in and start coaching again. I’ve had a good break and I’m very excited to be working with the talent available at Rovers. I’m keen to get on board with the players and understand where they’re at and see where I can help them. It’s been a whirlwind couple of days for myself, but I’m very excited about the opportunity.'"

Ford himself had refused to get drawn into speculation linking him with the role, reiterating his focus was on his job at York.

He told The Press earlier today: “It’s never nice to see a coach lose his job, certainly one of Tim Sheens’ stature.

“My energies are focused on York. My players deserve 100 per cent of my attention and I will give them that. We will work our very hardest to achieve our goals.”

Ford, 36, has been in charge of the Minster city side since retiring as a player and taking over from Gary Thornton in October 2014. He guided the Knights to a stunning title triumph in 2018 and, after becoming the club's first-ever full-time boss, has taken them to third in the Championship - currently being the leading part-time team in the land - ahead of Saturday's game against Toulouse Olympique at Bootham Crescent.

He is contracted until the end of 2021 although it has been reported – albeit not confirmed by the club – that there is a buy-out clause in his contract should a Super League outfit come calling.