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Thursday, February 04, 2010

Carlos Spencer back playing Super Rugby

Carlos Spencer back playing Super Rugby

After five years playing rugby in the UK, Carlos Spencer has decided to return to playing Super Rugby, as it was announced in January that he will take up a two year deal with the Johannesburg based Lions in the Super 14.

Spencer, now 34, will join the side in a role which will eventually see him being a player-coach, where he will look to guide and mentor young backline players for not only the Super 14, but the Currie Cup as well.

The former All Blacks flyhalf has been playing in England since 2005, when he first left the Auckland Blues to play with Northampton Saints before later moving to Gloucester. In December the Lions contacted him, and he jumped at the opportunity.

"Things didn't go as well as I'd have liked with the clubs in England on a rugby level because the style of rugby they play hasn't always suited me, Spencer said.

"The opportunity to come to the Lions arose very quickly - I got the call just before Christmas. Once it came up I was bloody excited by the prospect and, in a matter of weeks, the deal was done.

Spencer had hinted at a move back to the Blues, but the NZRU, who contracts all the players in New Zealand, didnt see any All Black potential for the 35 times capped player, so the Auckland side instead signed Stephen Brett at flyhalf.

"We had little talks but that's all it was, small talk," Spencer said. "We put out a hint that I was quite keen to come back but, you know, there was no keen interest from back home so we flagged it.

"I wasn't too disappointed. I always said when I left New Zealand that it was unlikely that I would ever go back and play so it's just one of those things. One door closes and another one opens."

With Dick Muir, Springbok Assistant Coach, now in charge at the Lions, they will be looking to play an expansive game, which will naturally suit Spencer.

"He looks excellent in training and in control of the backs. We signed him for a specific reason and we're expecting a lot from him in the coming weeks," said Muir.

"Dick and I have talked about it and being at high altitude we can afford to throw the ball around," Spencer said. "With teams coming from Australasia, the idea is to run these guys around when they come to Ellis Park. An expansive game will suit us to try tire them out, and Im excited about that."

Hes only had a few training sessions so far, and will play his first match warmup match on Friday in Witbank. Hes been impressed with what hes already seen at the Lions though.

"The skill levels of the South African players has changed over the past few years. Thats the reason why a South African side has won the Super 14 twice in three years. After my first training session with the Lions, the skills were great, especially among the young guys."

"To get a coaching job during the Currie Cup was a bonus. That's pretty much what attracted me to going back to Super 14 - to play the rugby and to get that coaching experience.

"It was absolutely perfect timing for me. I'm coming towards the end of my career and to have another season of Super 14 and do some coaching is ideal."

He admitted that there is still quite a difference in approaches when it comes to the game in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.

"Definitely, the mindset is very different in the Super 14 and it is something I am looking forward to. I think I have the mindset that comes along with the Super 14. I like to play rugby and enjoy myself.

"I don't think I will have a problem fitting into that at all," Spencer added.

While Spencer is now older and perhaps not as sharp as when he last played Super Rugby, he himself insists that hes fit enough and in good shape. Hell no doubt still have some tricks up his sleeve, and his presence will do great things towards getting bums on seats around the country.

This tribute video covers Spencers career pretty much up until when he finished with the All Blacks and the Super 12. Many of you may have seen some of the footage around, but its worth a watch and something that probably should have been in the RD archives sooner.


Time: 10:29

Posted at 12:49 pm | 22 comments

Viewing 22 comments

Scotsdale February 04, 2010 1:07 pm

Legend. The Lions should be interesting this year. Good coach, a few good players, and now Spencer in the mix too. Definitely a side to keep an eye on.

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Mike February 04, 2010 1:30 pm

King Carlos. Any other team than the all blacks, and he would've been first choice every time. Most exciting player I've ever watched.

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Anonymous February 04, 2010 2:46 pm

A bit off the pace recently and his place kicking is a bit wayward, but those moments of brilliance are worth it.

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s myler February 04, 2010 3:03 pm

long ago was the day of king c
did not do himself justice in england looked brilliant in the 1st division with the saints not a difficult place to look good though
to old to slow crap defence nowadays dont think he will play many games for the lions but we see
but thankyou for the moments of pure genius though

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Anonymous February 04, 2010 3:51 pm

was always mediocre in England,completely past it now goood riddance to bad rubbish

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Bill February 04, 2010 4:33 pm

I remember that 2004 game vs Stormers. Hendrik Gerber SMASHED Carlos and he was not the same after that. Match winning tackle.

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Lucas94b February 04, 2010 5:11 pm

Haha 6.34 !! guys run into each other!

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Anonymous February 04, 2010 5:54 pm

He's nowher near as cool as Carlos from The Brothers Garcia.

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geordie February 04, 2010 7:35 pm

to decide to run the ball from his own try line in the last minuete of a game when your two points up only carlos spencer could pull of, set alight england when he came over brilliant player

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FrankyH February 04, 2010 7:54 pm

Those who watched him play in England (and say he's mediocre) watched him having to conform to a style of play that didn't suit his incredible talent.

Yes, he's a coach's nightmare, but that was the brilliance of the man. Unfortunately though, he wasted many years playing on wet, heavy fields and having to stick to the same, uninspiring game that we've seen from up north at times.

He did some good things at the Saints, but injury etc kept him out from doing great things at Gloucester.

I believe it when he says he's in good nick now and looking forward to playing an expansive game. I'll be watching the Lions with interest.

Chavhanga on the wing too :)

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no9 February 04, 2010 8:41 pm

the only thing that could better this for me was if he played for the all blacks again.

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Flooz February 04, 2010 9:23 pm

A legend, true skills, great runner, one of the best example of what an allblack got to be

i don't understand why he wasted his talent in the "grey" guinness preiership..He could have played few more years for AB's

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Juan Pedro February 05, 2010 12:10 am

Epic. I guess there was no need for a debut such as Carlos' against '97 Pumas, ABs got already so much. Let's hope for the best with Carlos on Southern Hemisphere again.

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Paul February 05, 2010 1:11 am

Sweet Brother! Best of luck. all the boys @the adelaide!

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mart February 05, 2010 1:23 am

coming from an aussie fan, he's great to watch.
the 2nd last try, for the blues was an amazing effort.
great for super 14 he's back.
went missing a bit in the big internationals though.

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Anonymous February 05, 2010 9:18 am

"i don't understand why he wasted his talent in the "grey" guinness preiership..He could have played few more years for AB's"

I'll give you a clue....... $$$$$.

I got the impression he left NZ because the all black management turned there backs on him.

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Flow February 05, 2010 12:19 pm

Spencer Power

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Matthew February 05, 2010 1:00 pm

he used to run the most aggresive support lines of any 10 i've seen, hence why he always popped up to get that last pass for a try. Great attacking mentality.

He was able to get away with it for the ABs and Blues cause he knew his outside backs would get him 20m-30m up the pitch - when he came to the Premiership he was unable to get that guaranteed running lines, plus he's a little bit slower than he once was.

But to be honest absolute legend in his day and was one of the most exciting players to watch!

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Anonymous February 05, 2010 4:28 pm

I cannot wait for Lions to play at Newlands for the first time in my life. I wanna watch Carlos make magic again! Just a pity it will be a CC fixture :(

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Anonymous February 05, 2010 5:36 pm

hmmmm, i do get a bit sick of the old elitist All Blacks sort of comments and players.

but i think now its not so apparent i'll comment on it.

I always found watching the all blacks was a real pleasure, they used to play a style of barbarian type rugby. and someone has commented on spencers running.....really with the AB's a player could flick the ball behind and there was always a player who knew what was going to happen and was behind to scoop it up.....

thats the style that is lacking nowadays in any team, including the ab's

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Scotty February 05, 2010 6:30 pm

was absolutely entertaining, but wow - what a puff piece - didn't even SHOW the WC semi final. That was a hugely defining moment in his career to gloss over.

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nicko February 07, 2010 5:39 am

that last try is the greatest try ever!

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