GIANTS chief executive Ralph Rimmer today jumped to the defence of departing head coach Tony Smith over his lightning move to Leeds Rhinos
Smith takes his side to Odsal on Sunday for the challenging battle against Super League leaders Bradford Bulls (6.00).
This will be the Australian's first game since agreeing to a move to Headingley in November which has angered many fans.
But Rimmer revealed he knew for several weeks Smith would be leaving at the end of the season - and the fact the news emerged days before his Headingley switch was sheer coincidence.
"Now seems the appropriate time to make everyone aware of the events of Tony's signing for Leeds," said Rimmer.
"I made no secret that over a period of several weeks extensive talks had taken place between Tony and the club concerning his future.
"During that time Tony has been completely open and honest about the way he felt about staying.
"The issue of the playing budget was a major one and I'm grateful that Tony came to the board at the start of July to express his feelings about it.
"I was, therefore, pretty much aware at that stage that Tony would be leaving, regardless of whether he was lined up at another club or not.
"And I believe Leeds' approach took place over a very short period of time.
"Having known Leeds chief executive Gary Hetherington for many years I know what a great opportunist he is and I can see how everything could happen so quickly."