Johannesburg - Former All Black fly-half Carlos Spencer admitted that the chance to join the Auto and General Lions for this year’s Super 14 came as much as a surprise to him as it did to the Lions fans.
The 34-year old former All Black, dubbed “King Carlos” by Auckland Blues fans in his heyday, had his first training session with his new team on Thursday before boarding the bus for the Lions two-day team-building camp in Dullstroom.
Spencer joined the Lions primarily as their main playmaker as coach Dick Muir tries to revive the franchise to their former glory, but will also stay on after the Vodacom Super 14 to act as coach and mentor to the fly-halves contracted to the team.
Still, Spencer admitted that he was caught off-guard when the offer from the Lions came in at Gloucester, where he has been playing for the past few years.
“It was very much a spur of the moment thing that happened,” Spencer told Supersport.com. “When they asked me if I wanted to get back to the Super 14, it was another challenge for me. It jumped out at me, and I believe it was time for another chance.”
Spencer, who spent most of his first day in South Africa house hunting, said he harbours no illusions about playing for the All Blacks again, and would rather concentrate on bringing back some glory to the Lions.
“Aah mate, there’s no ambitions to play for the ABs again,” Spencer laughed, “I left those all behind me when I went to the UK five years ago. My main focus here is to do well for the Lions and help them reach their goals.
“I haven’t really been here for a long time yet, and spent most of it house hunting. But I had my first training session this morning with the guys and now we’re on our way to the camp.
“I had a chance to have a wee yarn to Dickie (Dick Muir) but once things settle we will have a better chance to sit down and talk a bit more about my role.”
Spencer said he had specifically requested the opportunity to coach, and was looking to hang up his boots when he finished at the Lions.
“I specifically had the coaching added into the contract. It’s a good thing for me as well and something else to think about for the future. Its also a great opportunity for me to use my experience and give it back to the young guys in the Currie Cup.
“When I left New Zealand I never thought I’d play rugby somewhere else in the Southern Hemisphere or Super 14. But it’s a good way to finish my career in South Africa and when I finish up at the Lions, I’ll definitely hang up my boots and go the coaching route.”
Spencer is likely to play his first game in the warm-up match against the Bulls in Polokwane on January 30.