Johanneburg – Eastern Province Kings coach Carlos Spencer hopes to imprint his own flamboyant style from his playing days on the side in their maiden Currie Cup Premier Division season starting on August 8.
“I want to give the players licence and the freedom to express themselves,” Spencer said.
“At the same time it is important to have structure, but it is not to put a strangle on them and say they must do this for 75 or 79 minutes.”
Spencer said while it would be foolish to completely ignore structured rugby, the side would reflect what he had learned from other coaches and his own style as a player.
“It is a bit of a merger of about everything, the way I was as a player and the coaches I've been involved with as a player,” Spencer said.
“At the same time I've been here 1/8in South Africa 3/8 for the last four years, so there might be a little bit of South African influence.”
Spencer, who was appointed head coach in February, said he had four months to prepare his charges for the pressures of top-flight rugby.
“We've had a good opportunity and window, I suppose, where I was able to take 15 or 16 players out of the Vodacom Cup where I spent time with those players to work on their strength and conditioning,” Spencer said.
“The four months for them was relatively hard but it is a window we made good use of, and to get that kind of window these days with the amount of rugby is pretty good.”
Spencer would not make predictions on his side's prospects in this year's competition, but instead said he had a longer-term goal in mind.
He viewed his main responsibility to lift the team to Super Rugby standards before their reintroduction to that competition in 2016.
“It is great for the province and the players being back in the Currie Cup. You can see a future for the youngsters coming through,” he said.
“Our main focus, to be honest, is probably 2016 when we get back into Super Rugby.
“If you look that far ahead, we don't want to go into that competition just as being just another number, we want to be competitive.”
The Kings mentor said he was nevertheless well aware of the challenge his side would face in the Currie Cup.
Although he had confidence in their preparations in the build-up to the start of the competition, their biggest challenge would be to adjust to the increased intensity and tempo at that level.
“In terms of where we are, I am reasonably happy but I know and understand that once Currie Cup comes it will be a lot more difficult and the challenge will be even bigger,” he said.
“As a province, coach and players we understand that and it is one we are looking forward to.
“The guys are definitely ready physically and mentally, so we just have to go out there and show what we've got and hit the pitch running.”
He said while South Africa had a plethora of rugby talent, the players were often prevented from expressing themselves.
“There is definitely talent in this country, they just need to have the freedom and the abilities to show it,” he said.
“The thing that frustrates me at the moment living here is to see these players not having the freedom and licence to express themselves.
“Hopefully I can give it to the players, I definitely know I can, they just need to make the most of it.”
The Kings will start their Currie Cup campaign with an away match against last year's losing finalists Western Province at home in Port Elizabeth on August 8. – Sapa