Brian Smith

All over ... Roosters coach Brian Smith. Photo: Getty Images

CATALANS DRAGONS coach Trent Robinson has emerged as a major contender to replace sacked Sydney Roosters coach Brian Smith.

Robinson is one of several coaches in the frame, along with Craig Bellamy and Jason Taylor, but the club first has to make a difficult decision on how to treat next year.

Bellamy would be an automatic choice if he were available immediately this season ended, but he is contracted to the Storm until the end of next season. It seems unlikely at this stage the Roosters could repeat Canterbury's Des Hasler play and get Bellamy a year early.

The Roosters have to decide whether to appoint a short-term coach - possibly Taylor - for next year, and continue to target Bellamy for 2014, or bite the bullet and make a long-term choice now. A board meeting that has been scheduled for today could settle on a strategy.

Robinson was on Smith's coaching staff when the Roosters made the grand final in 2010. He left the club after that season to take the job at Catalans, and in his second season there he has them in fourth place in the Super League approaching the finals series.

It is known that the management and players at the Roosters give Robinson plenty of credit for his role when with them, and that Robinson aspires to be an NRL coach. Taylor is coaching the under-20s team at the Roosters, and is keen to return to a first-grade job after previously coaching Parramatta and South Sydney at that level.

The Roosters issued a media release at lunchtime yesterday, which said that following a meeting earlier in the day between Smith, Roosters chairman Nick Politis and club chief executive Steve Noyce, it had been ''agreed by mutual consent that Smith will not be coaching the club in 2013''.

Smith had one more year to go on his contract, but after the big year under him in 2010, the Roosters slid to 11th last year and 13th this season.

There had been speculation for weeks about Smith's future, and also a suggestion he could be moved to a coaching director's role. It is understood the Roosters moved this week because the club's annual presentation function was scheduled for last night. It would have been a ridiculous look for Smith to make a speech and talk about the future only to be sacked.

Smith declined to make any comment when contacted by the Herald yesterday.

Politis and Noyce praised Smith's contribution in the release. Speaking to the Herald later, Noyce said: ''It's been a difficult day, and we've got the presentation night tonight. That [the coaching job] will be something we look at in the next couple of days.''

Roosters captain Braith Anasta, himself departing for Wests Tigers next season, said Smith's exit had come as ''a complete shock''.

''It's a sad day, and I'm quite disappointed,'' Anasta said. ''The club's made the decision, they're moving forward, so life goes on. There was no tension between players and staff, especially 'Smithy'. I know for a fact the players respect Smithy - they'll be shocked.''

It remains to be seen whether Smith becomes a contender for the Warriors job made vacant by the sacking of Brian McClennan. Asked yesterday whether the club would be interested in Smith, Warriors chief Wayne Scurrah would only say it was keeping its options open. Bellamy has also been linked to the Warriors for the 2014 season.