When Blake Austin touched down in front of the travelling Warrington Wolves supporters in last year’s Challenge Cup quarter-final at Craven Park, Tim Sheens must have known his time was up.

His Hull KR side had been camped on the Warrington tryline for what seemed like an eternity with the visitors depleted for 14 minutes – six of those with 11 men – yet barely made a dent.

Back to full strength, the Wolves went down the other end to score on the stroke of half-time and there was no way back for Rovers, or Sheens.

“To me they didn’t win that game tonight, we lost it,” he said in his final interview for the club.

“We shot ourselves in the foot. We had our chance to win it and didn’t.

“That was as frustrating as it gets today.”

It is a year to the day since Sheens was sacked and he is still unable to talk about his departure from Craven Park, or indeed his time at the club.

His final words as Hull KR head coach summed up the frustration of a man who had been trying to put a jigsaw puzzle together without all the pieces.

After leading the Robins back to Super League at the first attempt with relative ease in his debut season, the aim was to avoid another dalliance with the Qualifiers.

Despite a late rally – four wins out of five including a famous victory over Hull FC at the KCOM Stadium – Rovers finished 10th and faced a shootout for survival with the likes of Leeds Rhinos and Salford Red Devils.

Sheens’ team secured their safety with a comfortable win over Widnes Vikings in the final game but the momentum gained from promotion had dissipated.

Hull KR regained their Super League place with a win over Widnes Vikings
Hull KR regained their Super League place with a win over Widnes Vikings

Continuity is important for any promoted side and KR just couldn’t find any on their return to Super League.

Throughout 2018, Sheens only once named an unchanged 17 and just eight players who featured in round one played against Widnes in the last match.

It was the same story in the first half of 2019, with the Warrington game in round two the only time that Sheens sent the same players out.

Continuing the theme, Tony Smith has yet to name the same side in back-to-back fixtures.

While some of that is down to selection, it underlines the depth of the club’s injury crises in recent times.

It was clear that KR had become stale under Sheens, whose tactics and use of certain players frustrated a section of the supporters, while his defensive record was indefensible.

But the past 12 months have shown the scale of the task facing the man in the Craven Park hotseat, a job that is undertaken on a relatively modest budget.

Smith inherited an ageing squad – as well as the injury curse – and wasted no time in putting his stamp on the club.

Yet even with a young squad and a fresh feel to Craven Park, Rovers are exactly where they were this time last year – second from bottom in Super League.

Every good coach needs a bit of luck and it has been in short supply at Hull KR.

A year on from Sheens’ departure, perhaps it is time to acknowledge that the Australian did a good job with the hand he was dealt.