Carlos Spencer, who joined EP Rugby in December last year, has been appointed as the EP Kings Currie Cup head coach ahead of their foray into the Premier Division.
EP Rugby CEO, Charl Crous, confirmed that the former New Zealand flyhalf would be head up the coaching staff for the Currie Cup 2014 season.
Crous said Spencer, who played for the Blues and for New Zealand internationally, was well known for his flamboyant, attacking play and ball handling skills and brought with him a wealth of experience.
“After the confirmation of the Currie Cup inclusion, there has been a lot of speculation about what we were going to do, as EP Rugby, in terms of who the head coach will be and it is great for us to announce that Carlos will be looking after Currie Cup in 2014 and will be stepping up into that position,” he said.
Crous said Spencer would be joined by Michael Horak on defence at the end of the Varsity Cup season, and would also be assisted by Robbi Kempson, who would work with the Forwards.
Spencer first rose to prominence when he starred alongside Christian Cullen in a Ranfurly Shield challenge in 1991, playing for the Horowhenua team against Auckland. Auckland coach Graham Henry spotted Spencer’s talent and recruited him to play for the Auckland team.
He played for the Blues Super 12 team from the inception of the competition in 1996 until 2005, and also played extensively for the Auckland NPC side. In 2005 he signed to the English club, Northampton Saints.
In 2010 Spencer signed for the Johannesburg-based Golden Lions, to play for the team in the 2010 and 2011 Super Rugby seasons. He subsequently took up a coaching role with the team before moving to the Durban-based Sharks for the 2013 season.
Spencer said this was his first time to hold a head coach position, but was excited at being given the opportunity.
“There are obviously challenges ahead, in terms of the head coach role, but I’m excited about it and looking forward to it and I feel I have the right people here to help me as well,” he said.
Spencer said there was a lot of hard work that needed to be done, but the players were committed and willing to work hard.
With regards to sourcing additional players, Spencer said they were looking at which players were available.
“We do need certain players in certain areas, but it is something we are keeping close to our chest at the moment. Right now our focus is on the guys we do have, and not the ones that we don’t,” he said.
Spencer described his coaching style as “very ambitious” and said that while he wanted the boys to have fun and enjoy themselves, he focused on hard work and instilling a good work ethic in his players.
“In terms of where we are in terms of our fitness at the moment, we’re way off the pace. The next eight to ten weeks that we have, we’ll sit down and work with players on their fitness, their strength and explosive power,” he said.
Spencer said he was excited to see the wealth of talent that the region was producing, and which had been showcased in the warm up matches that had been played.
Looking forward, he said he was not expecting too much from this year’s Currie Cup.
“This is a big step up for a lot of players. It’s going to take a lot of work and I’m not expecting too much out of this first Currie Cup, I just want to see the team being competitive. If anything happens above that, it’s a bonus.”
“This is not a six month process, it will take time, but we are excited at having the opportunity and we just need to make the most of it,” he said.