Ollie Smith suspects there is a curse on his rugby talents
Esher head coach Ollie Smith has a suspicion he may be cursed.
The 29-year-old had a bitter-sweet debut as Molesey Road chief on Saturday as his side ran out impressive 46-5 winners over National Division two South Barking - despite his side featuring only two first choice starters.
The downside was both of those two – Gareth Morgan and Arran Cruickshanks – limped out of action, with the latter expected to miss the season having damaged cruciate ligaments in his knee.
Cruickshanks’ demise, which occurred in the opening three minutes of the encounter, bears a startling similarity to the pre-season shoulder injury that deprived Smith’s predecessor Mike Schmid of the services of big name signing Tom Cheeseman for large chunks of last term’s Championship campaign that ended in relegation.
And Smith, who joined the Esher coaching staff last year as backs coach before graduating to the top job this summer, is hoping history does not repeat itself.
“When I joined last year there was a whole load of injuries starting with Tom’s in pre-season. I think I might be jinxed,” he said.
“This is a terrible blow for Arran. I was really looking forward to working with him. He has worked so hard so for his season to last just two-and-a-half minutes is a great shame.
“But one man’s blow is another man’s opportunity. We have youngsters in Jack Cook and Joe Brown who can do the job.
“I was looking at bringing in another centre anyway so maybe we will look closer at that. But I will not rush in to it.”
Smith admitted Saturday’s win was far from perfect, but was delighted with the reaction to adversity.
“Once you start getting a few scores on the board players start doing things by themselves,” he added.
“I’m a perfectionist. If we had stuck to our systems we could have scored more points. But we got the result and results will keep me in my job.”