Welcome to the unknown, Smith tells his Esher stars

Out: Aaran Cruickshanks is expected to miss the whole season

Out: Aaran Cruickshanks is expected to miss the whole season

First published in Sport Wimbledon Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , Sports Editor

Esher boss Ollie Smith admits he will be venturing into the unknown when he takes his team to Fylde for the National League One curtain raiser on Saturday.


The Molesey Road outfit are looking for a return to the Championship and Smith says that although they do not know much about their opponents this season, they have a blueprint for success.


They will have to do without Aaran Cruickshanks after the Scottish U18s centre tore knee ligaments in a training session last weekend.


The former Plymouth man is undergoing surgery this week, but is expected to miss the whole season.


Smith said: “We don’t know what to expect this season.


“We know the odd player here and there, but we don’t have the videos and inside information on the other teams. For that reason, we will stick to what we know best, and that is getting the core basics right.


“We need to look after the ball during contact and keep our rucks clean.


“There is no point trying to play ebb and flow rugby when the ball is being lost through sloppy basics.


“If we perfect the basics, then moves will come together.


“We have what it takes to win at Fylde, but there will be a lot more to come from us as the season goes on.


“There is no point in me throwing a huge book on tactics at my players right now and expecting them to absorb it all. We need to learn as we go.


“But we’re all up for the season, it is a really exciting time.


“The pre-season games are effectively meaningless, but now there is something to fight for.”


Smith admitted his disappointment at losing Cruickshanks in a training session but accepts it is part of the game.


He said: “We have to have contact training to get players prepared for the bumps and bruises they will undoubtedly get in the season.


“It is also about what we do between games to help players recover between games but unfortunately it can lead to injuries.”


Esher’s first home game of the season is against Blackheath on September 8.

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