Lions sign former All Black flyhalf Carlos Spencer

2010-01-08 00:00

WHILE the Sharks were yesterday gloomily contemplating life without Argentinian Juan Martin Hernandez, the Lions were celebrating the signing of former All Black flyhalf Carlos Spencer.

The Sharks face real flyhalf problems with Hernandez back in Argentina and undergoing back surgery and with yo-yo man Ruan Pienaar, the likely flyhalf replacement, sidelined for at least a month following a knee operation.

But the Lions have splashed out in securing an exciting flyhalf to fill the hole left by former Bok Andries Pretorius — now with the Western Force — and have contracted Spencer.

Dick Muir, the Lions’ new director of coaching, was yesterday reluctant to speculate on the “secret” signing, but sports agent Stephan Weyers and Lions CEO Manie Reyneke both confirmed that Spencer had signed for the next two years.

The 34-year-old Spencer has reportedly accepted a massive contract, one which is more lucrative than the offer that enticed Hernandez to Durban as a replacement for Frans Steyn.

Weyers said that Spencer, who played in 44 Tests for New Zealand between 1997 and 2004, had been released from his contract with English club side Gloucester and he may play in the warm-up game against the Bulls at Polokwane on January 30.

The Lions have been desperate to add experience to their backline following the loss of Jaque Fourie to the Stormers and Louis Ludik to the Sharks.

“Carlos will also be a skills’ coach for the Lions in this year’s Currie Cup,” said Weyers.

An audacious and creative flyhalf, Spencer will certainly add an element of excitement to the Lions squad.

“We’ve watched him the last couple of months, and he still has loads to offer,” Reyneke said. “He’s a great ball-player and talent, and he has a couple of years in him at least. He can have a major influence on our team and one of the main objectives is for him to nurture our young up-and-coming flyhalves.

“Burton Francis, Ruan Boshoff and Elton Jantjies all need to learn from the best, and that will be a part of Carlos’s role.”

The Lions have failed to land All Black prop Carl Hayman and British Lions fullback Lee Byrne.

“We made Carl an offer, but unfortunately Newcastle wouldn’t let him go as he captains the club.

We were also in talks with Lee Byrne, but he decided to stay as he wants to play in the Six Nations,” Reyneke told reporters.

The Lions will have to wait until at least January 21 before knowing whether they will have scrumhalf JP Joubert as Spencer’s halfback partner. Joubert’s dispute with the Free State Cheetahs has gone to arbitration.

With Jano Vermaak (injured ankle) out of training until the end of the month, Muir desperately needs Joubert in his squad.

The Lions have also boosted their management staff, signing former All Black conditioning coach Wayne Taylor who was with the International Rugby Academy of New Zealand and will now work alongside Muir.

New Lions Burton Francis, Marius Delport, Tonderai Chavhanga, Jonathan Mokuena, George Earle and Hanyani Shimange all trained at Ellis Park this week along with forwards Jannes Labuschagne and Lawrence Sephaka.

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