Johannesburg - Auto and General Lions coach Dick Muir knows he will be looking for flyhalf Carlos Spencer to “drop a few old habits” and step up to lead his team to victory against the Chiefs in their Vodacom Super 14 game at Coca Cola Park on Friday night.
Spencer was less than impressive in his first outing for the Lions in last weekend’s 26-13 loss to the Stormers at home and was hauled off the park at half time; where after the Lions managed a second half rally that was way more impressive than their first half.
But with a clutch of new faces in their ranks, Muir decided to stick with his high-profile signing for Friday’s outing against the Chiefs, hoping that the nerves will have passed and Spencer will be able to move up a gear against last season’s Super 14 finalists.
In essence Muir has blamed the conservative nature of the Northern Hemisphere rugby setup for stunting the creative genius of the former All Black, but it is certain Spencer will have to show a few more deft touches to get himself on the right side of the Lions fanbase.
Muir added the lack of preparation time with Spencer – who only arrived in January to join the set-up, may have contributed to Saturday’s showing and believes there will be a different Spencer this weekend.
“For Carlos, having played in the Northern Hemisphere as long as he has has restricted his vision a little bit,” Muir said, “But certainly the individual doesn’t lack vision. For me it is just some old habits that are there that he has to shake off.
“We’ve had a good chat this week and I’m really confident that he will do the right job for us.
“It’s also about making sure you’re both on the same page. With so many new guys and so many changes to the squad from last season, you tend to run out of time before the campaign starts and maybe we haven’t synchronised ourselves properly.”
The Lions will go into the game with a definitive underdog status against the Chiefs side who won in the last minute in Durban, and Muir was intent on talking up the opposition as much as possible ahead of the game.
“We’ve seen what the Chiefs are all about. They were finalists last year and they have game breakers all over the park. They have so many; they could even rest a few, which is a sign of where they are. We’ve got huge respect for them as a team,” Muir said.
“We know they are a team that can tear you apart. We’re pretty tense for the outing.
“They are a team that has come of age. When a side wins those close games, which just tells you they are in a good space. The way they enjoyed the win, it tells you a lot about their environment. They have a happy environment and they have superstars.
“We are going to be testing ourselves against some of the best in the world.”
Yet in a Super 14 competition where there are no weak links and even less easy games, Spencer will have to step up to lead his team-mates onward if they are to leave South Africa on their overseas tour with a victory.