Smith planning promotion charge with Diss

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Dave Smith has set his sights on promotion after being handed the reins of Diss RFC.

The 49-year-old, who has been the backs coach at Mackenders since 2014, has stepped into the breach left by the departing Roger Coombs.

News of Coombs’ exit has come on the back of a campaign that saw Diss fall short in their quest for a London League 2 North East play-off place, before being thrashed 40-0 by rivals North Walsham in the Woodforde’s Norfolk Cup final last Saturday.

Now, the internally-appointed Smith has been charged with the task of ensuring that, after near misses in each of the last two campaigns, Diss go one better during 2016-17.

“I am looking forward to the job and following in the footsteps of Roger, who was successful in the position and that should not be overlooked,” said Smith.

“This is a fantastic club and one that rightly wants to be winning trophies.

“What is the point in playing if you do no want to win things? Promotion is what the club wants and I do as well.

“I will be gutted if we do not make it again next season. Everything is in place to make it happen, we just need to deliver the goods.”

Former North Walsham player and coach Smith will inherit a squad that he knows well, but one that may also be suffering with a hangover after recent disappointments.

Nevertheless, Smith is confident that the combination of a clean slate and some new faces will end up paying dividends.

“Like any club we are a couple of players short and need some additions, but we also have some very good players here,” he added.

“We have been close the last couple of years so the lads know what level they need to be getting up to.

“Hopefully, they will see my appointment as a fresh start and between us we can find some consistency.

“We have barely lost a home game since I have been here; it is the away form that has let us down.

“We need to start winning ugly and grinding out games. Once we get on the training field, we can start working on that.”

As for Coombs, club president Duncan West has revealed that the former London Irish coach’s departure was a mutual agreement.

Having come to the end of his two-year contract, it was decided in a series of discussions that the time was right for them to go their separate ways.

“He has done a great job for us and has settled the side right down,” said West.

“We were inconsistent prior to his arrival and Roger has certainly steadied the ship.

“We part on good terms and there is no animosity, but it is time to move on.”

Coombs was unavailable for comment when contacted by the Express this week.

Meanwhile, former Diss RFC player Tom West has been included in the England squad for the upcoming Rugby Under-20 Championships, which will be held in Manchester.

The 20-year-old, who spent his youth career at Mackenders and is the son of club president Duncan West, is now part of the set-up at Aviva Premiership outfit Wasps.

With six caps already to his name at youth level, West will be looking to add to his tally in group matches against Italy, Scotland and Australia.

England head coach Martin Haag said: “The format of the tournament means you can’t expect anyone to play 80 minutes of every single game.

“We’ve picked a strong squad and we’re really looking forward to seeing all these guys in action.

“Players will, of course, be picked on form but we will be managing workload and how we ensure mental and physical recovery between games.”

West and his team-mates will meet for a week-long training camp in Newcastle on May 22.

Then, their campaign gets underway on June 7 with a clash against the Italians at the Manchester City Academy Stadium.

West played in England’s 42-7 win the last time the two nations met.