Vodacom Super 14
Lions sit with flyhalf poser
Carlos Spencer (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg – It is easy to call for the head of Lions flyhalf Carlos Spencer, but the question is who will replace him.
The poor form of the 34-year-old since he joined the Lions as a big-money signing is infuriating supporters.
In terms of the deal with the Golden Lions Rugby Union (GLRU), which appears not to have been thought through very well, Spencer will still be able to make a contribution as an assistant coach over the next year-and-a-half.
The immediate problem is that the Lions have five games left in which they have to regain lost pride in the Super 14.
It is clear that Spencer’s best days are behind him. But even though his continued selection does not make a great deal of sense as he is denying a South African the opportunity of playing at Super 14 level, it is not easy to find a replacement for him.
The experienced Herkie Kruger’s calming influence and hunger when he made an appearance in Saturday’s 26-41 defeat to the Reds was encouraging, but he has not been a match-winner at Super 14 level over several seasons.
And considering Earl Rose’s form this year, it would be a sin to pick him in the position.
The best option appears to be 23-year-old Burton Francis, but he is sidelined with a stomach muscle injury.
One can go to the Vodacom Cup side where Ruan Boshoff is playing, or look at youngsters such as Jaco Taute, Elton Jantjes and Garth April. However, the trio of youngsters are tomorrow’s stars and the Lions need someone who can command respect in their No 10 jersey straight away.
Lions coach Dick Muir can also go to the Pumas or Leopards and try one of Ricardo Croy or Clayton Durand, but the expectation is that he will pick from Spencer, Kruger, Francis and Rose for the rest of the Super 14.
Francis is one of few Lions acquisitions that have looked promising.
Wikus van Heerden looks like the best buy of 2010, but has only played one game.
Spencer was the big signing, but not the only reason that there are questions about the GLRU’s pre-season contracting.
Lock Jacques Lombard is moving around between the substitutes bench and the injured list, while Tonderai Chavhanga, JP Joubert and Jonathan Mokuena have dropped down to the Vodacom Cup team.