Smith ready to lift the Jacks

Smith ready to lift the Jacks

Posted on June 10, 2016 in 'News'

ECU Joondalup have been active in the transfer window, and the signing of experienced defender Rikki Smith from Inglewood United is a ‘Good purchase’ according to Coach Dale McCulloch.

The 29-year-old defender was given limited game time at Inglewood and the English-Born Smith said he needed a new challenge and when ECU contacted him it was an easy decision to join. “It’s a great move for me, the club are ambitious and I have been really impressed with the setup over the past week,” Smith said. “Training is really well organised and the sessions are very intensive which I like so it’s been an easy environment to come in to. I knew a few of the boys before moving over so that’s also helped me to hit the ground running.”

That being said the decision to leave the club, which the defender had played a number of years for, in two separate spells wasn’t easy, but he wants to play football and it wasn’t happen there. “I think any player who tells you that leaving a club was easy would be lying. This was my seventh season at Inglewood so it’s only natural that you develop some really strong relationships with everyone associated with the club,” he explained. “A few people at ECU noticed that my game time at Inglewood was limited recently, so got in contact to see if I would be interested in making the move north, and after speaking to the coaching staff I decided that ECU was the place for me.”

Smith agreed terms with the club in midweek, and was unavailable last week due to the NPL transfer rules, but he sat in stands and watch his new club beat his old club 2-0. “Yes it was a strange one, I was an Inglewood player on Tuesday and then I was sitting in the stand watching the game in my ECU tracksuit on Saturday,” he said. “The lads gave me stick which I expected but it was all in good spirit. Great result though and one which we need to build on the coming weeks.”

Coach McCulloch said Smith is a great player to have at the club, with plenty of NPL experience. “We’re delighted to have signed Rikki, he’s a winner and a great leader on the park, and he’s just what we’ve been looking for,” he said. “We’ve got a number of young players playing in defence this season, and in hindsight it was probably a little early to play them all together, and we we’re punished in a couple of games. But these youngsters have a big future at our football club and we are expecting big things from them down the track, but you can’t beat experience.”

Smith said the intensity at training has lifted with places up for grabs, but the former Pagham FC and Bogner Regis Town defender said he’s relishing the challenge. “There a lot of ambitious and passionate people around the club so it doesn’t surprise me that they attracting so many quality players at the moment,” he said. “It’s been an extremely young squad this season and a lack of experience at times looks like it’s cost the team points when in winning positions. Bringing some more senior players into the squad should hopefully address this and also help the younger players to develop. I came here to win games and compete so that mentality will hopefully bring something to the squad. I tend to be quite vocal which will help some of those younger players develop and keep the team organised.”

Smith, who joined ECU briefly when he came out from the UK in 2018, will take his place in the squad for Saturday’s local derby against Sorrento and he said, if selected it will be a huge game. “I don’t think there is a better game than a local derby. These games here perhaps don’t get the attention as they do back in the UK but there’s a buzz around the club this week and speaking to supporters you can tell this one is important,” he said. “Top four is the target for the remainder of the season and Sorrento hold that fourth and final spot at the moment so we need to start clawing back the gap with a hard fought win this Saturday.”