K rock Football

Smith keen to coach again

SOON-to-be departed Portarlington coach Jesse Smith hasn’t ruled out coaching again.

The former Carlton player will step down after three seasons in the top job at the Demons at the end of the year after both he and the club’s executive agreed he would not take up the option of a fourth season in 2020.

“I love coaching, and that hasn’t changed,” Smith said.

“I love the rapport that I’ve built with the players, and I’ve got a really strong relationship with all players on the list.

“So, I really enjoy that part of it, and developing younger guys and reserves guys and turning them into senior footballers.

“It’s something I thoroughly enjoy.”

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Smith came to Ron Evans Oval in late 2016 after Matthew Sproule had been sacked in the middle of that year and Nick Daniele took over as caretaker coach.

Portarlington won just the one game in 2017 before improving to three wins last year.

However, Smith says he found himself starting from scratch every year.

“I had a fairly good network of players I had played with in the past, like Nick O’Neill, Kym Jones, Cam Millward and Guy O’Keefe,” he said.

“Last year we got a few boys from North Heidelberg and the like.

“But it was just really hard to hold onto good players. They come for one or two years max.

“And losing, it’s really tough. You don’t really understand unless you’re involved in a club like Portarlington, and how hard it is to keep fronting up every week after getting beaten so convincingly.

“It takes its toll mentally and physically on good players. The Daniele brothers (Nick and Chris) left, and Luke Williams couldn’t play this year because of an injury.

“It’s not like I had the same list for three years and I couldn’t do anything with them.

“I basically had to start from scratch every 12 months, and it’s really hard to do that.”

Smith says he will devote some time to his young family before deciding whether he looks to coach next year or has a year off.

“I’ve got three kids under the age of six, and my wife’s on maternity leave, so it’s been hard on her,” he said.

“I’m not home much because I work in Melbourne, sometimes go interstate for work, and then I’m coaching on top of that.

“My wife and kids need me for the not-too-distant future, so I’ll just concentrate on being the best dad I can for the next few months.

“Then if a club picked up the phone and wanted to have a chat, I’d definitely be willing to catch-up and have a coffee.”

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