Spencer's old habits slowing Lions' attack
February 18, 2010
Can Carlos Spencer spark the Lions' backline? © Getty Images
Lions coach Dick Muir believes that Carlos Spencer will need to shake off some bad habits picked up during his stint in the northern hemisphere before he returns to top form in the Super 14.
Spencer started his first Super 14 game since 2005 as the Lions lost to the Stormers last weekend, with the former All Black having enjoyed spells at Guinness Premiership sides Northampton and Gloucester since leaving the Blues.
"For Carlos, having played in the northern hemisphere as long as he has has restricted his vision a little bit," Muir told South African website Sport 24. "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."
The Lions welcome the Chiefs, fresh from an opening victory over the Sharks in Durban, to Ellis Park on Saturday. Chiefs coach Ian Foster is unsure what to expect from Spencer following an injury hampered display last time out.
"It's hard to tell what happened in that first half, but he'll be out there, wanting to perform well on the park," he said. "He would have been disappointed to go off in the last game.
"I'm not sure we actually learnt a lot from the Stormers about what Carlos can bring to the game, because he didn't really get the opportunity to use his normal skill set that we've seen in New Zealand and Super 14 rugby four or five years ago."
The Chiefs have made a number of changes for the game, notably recalling skipper Sione Lauaki, centre Callum Bruce and wing Dwayne Sweeney. Nevertheless, Foster dismissed accusations of a rotation policy among the squad.
"That's what it looks like, but it certainly wasn't the strategy before we came to South Africa," he said. "I guess we were forced into a few changes last week because of injury and illness, and that's proven to work quite well for us, but now we've got the chance to bring those three guys back.
"We're not getting too carried away with that first game - while it was an important win, it could have gone either way in those last five minutes. It was a fine line between winning and losing, and we know this week's going to be pretty much the same."
Huw Richards profiles French forward Walter Spanghero, a man who even rugby's hard men thought was a tough nut
"To be part of the Commonwealth Games, I'd wear anything. I'd wear a clown suit." Tom Hamilton talks to Scotland's Sean Lamont
Scrum Sevens looks back at how rugby has fared in both the early Olympics and the past four Commonwealth Games
"Cheika's been phenomenal. He gives you an incredible level of mental strength." Tom Hamilton talks to Waratahs star Jacques Potgieter