Johannesburg - Former All Black Carlos Spencer will not only serve as the chief playmaker in the Lions' Super 14 campaign this season, but also as a mentor to young flyhalves in the franchise during the Currie Cup.
Lions CEO Manie Reyneke confirmed that Spencer had indeed signed with the franchise and that he will play an integral role in the union over the next two years.
The coup of Spencer will help make up for the loss of big name players such as Andre Pretorius, Louis Ludik and Jaque Fourie, all of whom left the Lions in the off-season. Currently there are few big names within the franchise, which recently appointed Springbok assistant Dick Muir as coach of the side.
According to Reyneke, Spencer will arrive within a week but has signed for two seasons with the Lions – with the second season in 2011 either as player or coach – or both.
“Yes we’ve signed Carlos,” Reyneke confirmed, “and we can’t wait for him to arrive here. He will have a vital role to play in the team this season.”
Reyneke revealed that Spencer had also decided to stay on for the Currie Cup, more in a coaching role, and then return next year for the Super 14.
“We are lucky to have four very good young flyhalves here at the Lions,” Reyneke said,
“Guys like Elton Jantjes, Ruan Boshoff, Burton Francis and Jody Rose have a lot of talent but could use a mentor like Carlos. He has all the experience and will be guiding them through the Currie Cup later this year as a skills coach.”
Asked whether Spencer would return in 2011, Reyneke replied: “He is contracted for 2011, but it is up to him to decide whether he will play again, or just help us out with the coaching.”
Reyneke did say the Lions were hoping to make “one or two more” signings before the start of this year’s Super 14 competition, but would not comment further as “negotiations are sensitive at the moment.”
Spencer will help fill the void left by the loss of Andre Pretorius to the Western Force, and according to his agent Stefan Weyers the contract is said to be one of the biggest in South African rugby history.
Spencer represented the All Blacks in 44 Tests between 1997 and 2004, scoring 291 points.