Esher's step into the unknown
Ollie Smith is taking a step into the unknown with Esher this season, and he reckons that means he has nothing to lose.
The 29-year-old former Leicester Tigers, England and British Lions centre was unveiled as head coach at Molesey Road with his playing future still in some doubt.
Smith, who has not played rugby since smashing his knee playing for Harlequins against Saracens in December 2010, has never held a coaching role in his career.
But he has worked under some of the best – such as Dean Richards, Sir Ian McGeechan, Sir Clive Woodward and Conor O’Shea – in a glittering career that started with his Tigers debut as an
18-year-old – making up
for his lack of practical
“This job is a blank canvas for me and I have no fear of failure,” he said.
“I’m the youngest member of Esher’s coaching team, let alone the youngest and most inexperienced coach in National One.
“It is a great opportunity and I’ve got nothing to lose. Either way, if I leave in a couple of years I will be 31 or 32 with a head coach’s
position under my belt.
“I’ve got a huge desire to be able to put on my CV that I made a success of this job.
“Where I go from there, I don’t know.
“Being a Leicester boy, I would like to be director of rugby at Leicester Tigers one day.
“That would be an amazing thing to do.
“I’d like people to one day look back on my time as coach – however long that is – and say ‘What a great decision it was to hire Ollie’.”
Since Smith took charge Matt Symons, Kevin Corriogan, Ignacio Elosu, Shawn Renwick, Geoff Griffiths, Mark Atkinson, Jamie Mackenzie, Phil Mackenzie and Perry-John Parker have all left the
Tom Cheeseman, Mike Macfarlane, Arran Cruickshanks, Kris Chesney, Luke Daniels, Gareth Morgan, Stewart Maguire, Cameron Zeiss and former London Irish flanker Ben Pritchard are among those to have
committed to the cause.
“Ten per cent of my time has been spent coaching at the moment, the rest has been all organisational,” he said.
“Registering players, organising training kit, signing new players and getting the coaching team in place.
“It has been a real baptism of fire and while people might say we are semi-pro we expect professional standards.
“Players are getting paid so we expect them to be on time and prepared to train hard.
“They are playing and training for us about five hours a week and I expect them to be professionals while they are here.”
Esher were relegated last term after a season of struggle in the Championship where wins were thin on the ground.
And Smith was looking forward to a return to winning ways.
“The starting 15 will be stronger than last season and with any luck we will not suffer the amount of injuries we did,” he said.
“We might not have the strength in depth, but we have a number of young players coming through, who will be given their chance. People like Adam Bishop and John Cook.
“It is literally a case of taking it game by game.
“We have Fylde to start with and we could not have hoped for a better game to kick-off with.
“If we can’t get ourselves motivated for that then we won’t be motivated for anything. Then it is a case of kicking on to the next game.”