Rubgy Union: Barking head coach Ollie Smith urges squad to use Saffron Walden match as springboard for season
PUBLISHED: 16:00 05 January 2017
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Gale Street club start 2017 in the relegation zone, but former Harlequins back bullish about avoiding drop
Barking head coach Ollie Smith has backed his relegation-threatened side to come out fighting in the second half of the London One North season, starting at home against Saffron Walden on Saturday.
Since arriving at Gale Street in the summer, the former British & Irish Lions tourist has only overseen three wins, with the club currently nine points adrift of safety after losing their last eight matches in a row.
However, one of those victories came when they made the trip to Saffron Walden back in September and claimed a 16-14 win and Smith is fully aware that the perfect way to kickstart both 2017 and Barking’s season is by doing the double over their rivals with another triumph this weekend.
“We have to be fit and fighting over the rest of the season if we want to avoid relegation,” he said.
“We could perhaps do with one or two more backs in the squad as I feel our pack is good enough.
“Then it’s about getting on a winning run and we know that it’s still possible for us to avoid relegation.
“I’m a firm believer in the saying you get out what you put in, so we might have to put in a little more until the end of the season.
“That mentality breeds more confidence, and I know we have a chance to make it happen against Saffron Walden this weekend.”
Smith took over at Barking during the off-season, replacing former head coach Nigel Seaman on an initial three-year deal.
The former Leicester Tigers centre arrived with plenty of coaching pedigree, having worked with London Welsh during their time in the Aviva Premiership.
However, Smith admits that his first few months with Barking have been harder than expected, but says that has not dampened his ambitions for the club.
“It has been tougher than I thought it would be, but not for the reasons that I thought it would be,” added Smith.
“Playing rugby is the easy part as it’s something you can correct and manage, but it’s about getting the squad to buy into your methods.
“Because it’s hard to know how many will turn up from one training session to the next, it makes it
difficult to plan training sessions.
“It has been a learning curve for me these past few months, but I don’t get too upset with it as I have that competitive edge any sportsman has.”
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