Esher coach Ollie Smith walks out over lack of direction within the club
Head coach Ollie Smith walked out on Esher RFC because he feared a lack of direction within the club was detrimental to his own future as a coach.
The 30-year-old returned from a six-week holiday and fact-finding trip to New Zealand and Australia last week to tell a shocked Esher board he was stepping down.
Smith, with assistant coach Ricky Nebbitt – who will be at the club next season, guided Esher to second in National League One last term.
But the former British Lions centre revealed that players at the Molesey Road outfit were often paid late, leading to concerns over instability at the club and his future role.
“I was getting worried and unsure of the direction the club was going in and how they were going about it,” he said.
“We had come so far with the players in the past 12 months, and we were going in the right direction.
“I was thinking, do we push for promotion, or do we want to stabilise? But the club does not seem to know what it wants and does not have the determination to follow anything through.
Runners up: Under Smith's guidance, Esher finished second in National League One last season SP72993
“I was worried about the financial side of the club as well, sometimes the players were late getting paid and they would come to me and moan, and that is not what I should be dealing with as a coach.”
“I found it so difficult to do anything, I did not know if I could sign a player, or could not sign a player.
“I did not know if we could get a piece of physio equipment that would help get a player back from injury quicker, which to me means keeping a better player on the pitch and not a second or third rate player.”
He added: “There is no certainty over what the club wants to do, and this is not going to be beneficial to me.
“If you are not seriously going to try and go up, if you’re not in it 100 per cent, why be in it at all?
“I felt it was more beneficial to me to find employment elsewhere. It’s a shame because it is a cracking club and there are some fantastic people there, but it needs to be run properly and I could not see that happening while I was there.”
Smith, who made 174 appearances for Leicester Tigers, became head coach at Esher in 2012, having spent much of the season before as backs coach after injury curtailed his playing career.
He said: “I have heard that someone with money was going to come in at Esher, but I could not wait around for that, it could be three or four years before the club is settled.
“To be honest, I would not be there in three or four years anyway, even if we were successful, I would hope to be picked up by a bigger club by then.
“So what am I battling for? I would rather jump ship a little early, rather than continue along and not get the benefits.”
He added: “I am open to offers now, although I would like to go into coaching at an academy somewhere. That would be the ideal.”
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