Carlos Spencer hits out at South Africa style

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 12:55 25/07/2014
Carlos Spencer
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LIKES FLAIR: Carlos Spencer.

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Former All Black Carlos Spencer, renowned for his flamboyant rugby style, has hit out at the conservative South African approach and voiced a desire to change that with his provincial team.

Spencer's Eastern Province Kings were readying for their return to the top flight of South Africa's Currie Cup competition, and ultimately a return to Super Rugby in 2016 as the Kings (branded Southern Kings) will be one of three expansion teams.

Spencer, whose unorthodox brilliance saw him star with Auckland, the Blues and All Blacks before taking his game to Britain, has been in South Africa coaching for four years as an assistant with the Lions and Sharks.

He now faced his biggest challenge as a head coach and he was out to change some attitudes.

He felt South African teams were guilty of not allowing players to express themselves.

"There is definitely talent in this country, they just need to have the freedom and the abilities to show it," he told the South African Press Association.

"The thing that frustrates me at the moment living here is to see these players not having the freedom and licence to express themselves.

"Hopefully I can give it to the players, I definitely know I can, they just need to make the most of it."

Spencer has had four months to embed his philosophies into his team. He believed the style would be a mix of his playing style and the coaching influences he has worked with.

"I want to give the players licence and the freedom to express themselves," Spencer said.

"At the same time it is important to have structure, but it is not to put a strangle on them and say they must do this for 75 or 79 minutes.

"It is a bit of a merger of about everything, the way I was as a player and the coaches I've been involved with as a player.

"At the same time I've been here (in South Africa) for the last four years, so there might be a little bit of South African influence."

Spencer faced a tough juggling act and he would come under massive scrutiny being handed the reins of a rugby hotbed that has failed to fulfill its potential in recent years.

In the country's political minefield the Kings were crucial to the bigger picture and South African bosses held firm with their Sanzar partners New Zealand and Australia, demanding the Kings return to Super Rugby must be as an additional sixth team from the republic, rather than replacing one of their current five teams.

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Spencer would be desperate to hold his job for that challenge and admitted he had to work with a long-term view for the ambitious province.

"It is great for the province and the players being back in the Currie Cup. You can see a future for the youngsters coming through," he told Sapa.

"Our main focus, to be honest, is probably 2016 when we get back into Super Rugby.

"If you look that far ahead, we don't want to go into that competition just as being just another number, we want to be competitive."

The Kings faced a tough Currie Cup introduction, hosting last year's beaten finalist Western Province in Port Elizabeth on August 8.

- Stuff

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