The Spencer factor
The Spencer factorSHARE
All Black Carlos Spencer had a huge impact on Elton Jantjies and now the Sharks hope he can do the same for their Springbok flyhalf, Pat Lambie.
Spencer, who was an influential figure as John Mitchell's assistant at the Lions, has been spending some time in an advisory capacity at the Sharks in Durban.
Although his stay is, for now, temporary, the Sharks fans will get an opportunity to see what Spencer has been able to accomplish early next month.
It is unlikely Lambie – or the rest of the Sharks' A Team – will feature against the Leopards next week, but a week later against the Pumas coach John Plumtree is likely to field his first-choice selection.
And that is when the Spencer factor will become clear.
"The players have really enjoyed having Carlos here," Plumtree said on the Sharks'; website.
"I'd like him here a little longer," the coach said, adding: "He's not here for the whole tournament – he has family back in Johannesburg.
"He will help us through the course of the season. He'll see how we go and he'll come down periodically.
"Carlos will be good for not only our flyhalves, but also our backs. He'll also be working on our kicking game.
"But really, he's just touched the surface of what I want from him."
Springbok defence coach John McFarland has also spent a few sessions with the Sharks and by all accounts, his contribution has been invaluable.
"He has had a lot of experience coaching at a top level for a long time, he's a specialist in defence and we wanted to pick his brains, to make use of his knowledge this week," Plumtree said.
"It's a good change for the boys with some fresh ideas."
Utilising external personnel has always been embraced by the Sharks coaching staff, mindful of the fact that there is a lot of intellectual capacity in South Africa. It also works in the Springboks favour.
"It's important that we adopt the philosophy of sharing information from the Springbok management to us, which will also give John a better idea of our players by working with us.
"We're able to open up the working relationship with the Springbok coaches, starting with him."