All Blacks will 'destroy' Springboks - Spencer
LIAM NAPIER IN JOHANNESBURG
Carlos Spencer has turned his back on coaching after being dropped by the Lions and while the Springboks are improving he believes the All Blacks will "destroy" them this weekend in Soweto.
Spencer has been settled in Johannesburg for three years and is now contemplating a sports promotional job after being sacked with immediate effect, along with Lions coach John Mitchell, via email during this year's Super Rugby season.
The cold manner of dismissal, with over a year to run on his contract, left the former All Blacks playmaker miffed. It is understood Spencer was a popular figure with Lions' players. His innate knowledge of back-line play was highly valued.
"They cut Mitch and I was next. It's just one of those things. People get fired everyday. It's time to move on and try something different," Spencer told Fairfax Media. "It would have been nice for the CEO or president to tell me face-to-face. It was a cowardly way to do it."
Unlike Mitchell's stabbing incident, Spencer hasn't endured a brush with local crime and with an eight year-old son and four year-old daughter to consider he didn't explore overseas coaching posts.
But after been brutally cut by the Lions, who have since lost their place in Super Rugby to the Southern Kings, he is unlikely covet a return to the cut-throat coaching profession any time soon.
"I just saw it as an opportunity to finally get out of rugby," Spencer said. "Coaching for me was never a long-term thing. It was something to do once I hung up the boots. It's just probably happened a little bit sooner than I thought."
In their best performance of the year, the desperate Springboks recorded their biggest win in three years, against the Wallabies last week, but Spencer feels that purposeful result needs to put in perspective.
Australia were decimated by injuries and delivered another poor performance on the highveld. The Wallabies defence in particular was shambolic, conceding five tries, as they attempted to plug holes in their faltering back-line.
"The Springboks obviously needed a good win but the Aussie weren't great. I think the All Blacks will destroy them this week," Spencer said.
"It will be a big confidence booster for the Springboks. There was a lot of pressure on them over here in terms of their last couple of efforts. They played some good rugby at times and didn't kick away as much ball as they had previously. That's definitely a step in the right direction for them.
"But they are going to come up against a better defence this week. If they can hold the ball for long periods and not kick it away they'll be in with a chance, but the All Blacks will be too good for them."
There are question marks around the All Blacks' motivation after claiming the Rugby Championship with a sublime showing in Argentina last week, but, with the benefit of experience, Spencer reckons that achievement will relieve tension rather than stifle their desire.
"They've already got the trophy in the bag so they can go out there and express themselves with no pressure to win it," he said.
"I've been in that situation before with the Blues when you've already secured a semi-final spot. You never go out there to give 90 percent.
You always want to win the last game.
"It will make the trip home a lot better. They won't be relaxing just because they've won the tournament. It would be a disappointing way to end the competition if they were to lose this week. They'll be fired up, hungry and aiming to destroy them."
Despite his ugly exit from the Lions, Spencer hopes to see them rise again.
"Speaking to the people in Jo-berg they can't believe it. The richest city in South Africa isn't going to have a team in Super Rugby," he said. "There's a lot of disappointment around. It might make them wake up and change a few things so they can get back where they deserve to be."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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