Kris Chesney talks to Sky Sports about his decision to swap the French sun for the grind of National One rugby.
By Tony Curtis - Follow me on Twitter: @SkysportsTC
Last Updated: 03/07/12 1:35pm
Kris Chesney's announcement that he would be dropping down to National One of the English leagues might have shocked some, but the veteran lock believes he has made the first sensible decision of his life.
What Mrs Chesney makes of that statement is unknown; however the former Saracens powerhouse is ready to begin a new chapter in his life by moving his family to Esher.
Chesney will finally turn his back on the French sun on July 31 after a successful three-year stint at Toulon - with the 38-year-old having played in two Amlin Challenge Cup finals and a Top 14 final.
Chesney could easily have stayed in France or picked up a big pay day in England, however he believes his decision to join up with Esher - who were relegated from the RFU Championship last season - is the right move at the right time.
The boots won't be hung up yet, though, with Chesney set to combine playing with coaching the forwards and working full-time - while former Lions and England centre Ollie Smith will oversee the new-look backroom staff at Esher.
"I have been preparing for something like this for a while," Chesney told Sky Sports.
"I was 'umming' and 'ahhing' last year about quitting but Toulon wanted me to stay. I do think I've got another season in me playing but I've got to look at the long term. I'm 39 in March so for 18 months I've been preparing what to do next. To leave the game at 40 would have been hard for me to then adjust.
"There is a massive drop in pay to consider plus it is so competitive out there in the workplace, so for a 40-year-old to be looking for work would be tough.
"I perhaps could have had another year but that would have taken a massive toll on the body and really it would have been just delaying the inevitable.
"At Esher I will be looking after the forwards which will be a nice first step into coaching, whilst the club will be helping me out in terms of finding work.
"To be honest it is the first time in my life I've probably been sensible. I've been extremely fortunate that I've had a long time to prepare for this as for some people their careers can end in an instant.
"I knew it was coming so I've made the most of the time and rather than head to the golf course, I have been using my time to gain work experience in the City."
Although Chesney, who made 69 appearances for Toulon, concedes that his exit from the south of France hasn't sunk in yet, he admits he can't wait to return to his roots in England having started his career in the lower leagues with Barking.
"I don't think it has hit me yet," he said. "I'm still training full time as that is what I'm used to doing. I know I need a good pre-season under my belt to get me through next season in National One as after this I will be working.
"I am used to a certain level of fitness and strength and I don't want to lose that but it is difficult to reach the same levels when you will be working full time.
"It is nice in Toulon; I've got the sun, the pool, the family. The boys are all away on holiday or touring but I am doing some pre-season with the club before I return to England so that is when it is likely to hit me once I'm around the side again.
"But it is an exciting challenge ahead at Esher. I will be going back to my roots in rugby terms as I started at this level at Barking. I am really looking forward to it, it is a good club that wants to be back in the Championship and we want to get them there."
Before moving to France, Chesney racked up 209 Premiership appearances at Saracens - and he will be looking to use all his experience to help make Esher a success.
"Esher have signed me and Ollie to give them that experience of a higher level and to lead the players," he said. "I'm still hungry and competitive and I want to play at the highest level."
The arrival of Chesney and Smith is a clear indication of the club's intentions - however the Londoner insists that the focus is very much on developing the resources at Esher.
"I've had plenty of phone calls with Ollie and we've met up a few times," said Chesney.
"I know his plans and his visions for the club and he wants a very tight ship. He is looking to develop players. It is largely the same squad as before but integrating the younger players from the academy rather than buying them in.
"Ollie wants to make people better rugby players. Some clubs have gone down the route of trying to buy the title. However, I fully agree with Ollie's philosophy."
Although still based in France for another few weeks, Chesney has already made himself know to the players at Esher - and he can't wait to settle in properly.
"I have been flying over a few times to do some pre-season sessions and to meet the lads as this is a new start and a new environment for me," he added.