7:00am Saturday 5th April 2014
By Stuart Amos
Former Esher head coach Ollie Smith has revealed he did not handle his Molesey Road exit well, but is confident it has worked out for the best.
The 31-year-old former England and Harlequins centre quit the club last summer having been unable to mastermind a return to the Championship during his one season in charge.
He walked out looking for a more professional environment where he could concentrate solely on coaching, but it took until December for him to land a fresh challenge at London Welsh.
Smith is assistant coach at Old Deer Park, but is only contracted to the end of the season, which is hoped will end with a top-flight return.
And, despite the uncertainty over his career, he is thankful to the Surrey club for giving him a fresh start in the game after seeing his playing career curtailed by injury.
“I didn’t leave Esher the way I would have liked and said a few things I probably should not have done,” he added.
“I feel very fortunate that everything has worked out for the best really. No disrespect to Esher of National Division One rugby, but leaving was the best move I made.
“I think being there for another season would have been a waste of my time.
“I needed to be tested as a coach, and there is no more testing place than at a club trying to get into the Premiership.
“I am thankful for the opportunity I was given and everything the club did for me. I learned a lot and am still in touch with some great people at the club.
“My coaching is progressing well.”
Welsh secured a top four finish with a 32-21 win over London Scottish at the Athletic Ground on Sunday as they prepare for the Championship play-offs.
Esher days: Ollie Smith imparts some advice as coach of the Molesey Road side
But even a top-flight return might not secure an extension to Smith’s spell with the exiles. You cannot take anything for granted,” he said.
“There is nothing to say I’ll keep my job or not at the end of the season. That is out of my hands. If we go up I would love to stay around.”
He added: “I want to coach at the top level of senior rugby.
“But I have to be respectful of the fact I have a long way to go to reach that level, in the same way it was a long journey to the top as a player.”
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