The Hurricanes have announced they have parted ways with assistant coach Carlos Spencer, effective immediately, due to the financial implications brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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In a brief statement, the club said: “Due to the financial uncertainty created by COVID-19, we have agreed he [Spencer] will finish his contract early.

“This means he will not be part of the Hurricanes coaching team for the remainder of Super Rugby Aotearoa.

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Blues v Highlanders Press Conference

“We would like to thank Carlos for his significant contribution to the Hurricanes and wish him all the best for the future.”

Speaking to 1 News, Hurricanes chief executive Avan Lee described the decision to terminate the former All Black’s contract early as “an incredibly challenging situation”.

1 News reports that the decision is not indicative of Spencer’s coaching ability or his relationship with squad or staff members, and that injured utility back James Marshall may shoulder more responsibility with attacking duties as a result of Spencer’s exit.

Spencer, who played 35 tests for the All Blacks between 1997 and 2004, joined the Hurricanes’ coaching ranks as an assistant ahead of the 2019 season after backroom stints with the Lions, Sharks, Southern Kings and Munakata Sanix Blues.

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A three-time Super Rugby champion with the Blues, the 44-year-old will now act as a free agent in the coaching market as the coronavirus-enforced financial strain continues to bite the professional rugby scene.

The most recent example of the economic downfall caused by coronavirus came last week, when the Highlanders announced they won’t be looking to fill the role of departing assistant coach Mark Hammett at the end of this season in a cost-saving effort.

Spencer’s departure from the Hurricanes leaves the club with a shortened coaching list that is void of much experience at Super Rugby level.

Jason Holland is in his first campaign as head coach after being promoted from his assistant position at the end of last year when John Plumtree was named as an assistant coach to new All Blacks boss Ian Foster.

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Similarly, Chris Gibbes is in his first year in the Hurricanes’ coaching staff after spells around the globe with teams such as Waikato, Wellington, Ospreys, Japan, Georgia and the New Zealand U20 side.

Former All Blacks wing Cory Jane is also in his first season as Hurricanes defence coach, three years after his retirement as a player, while scrum specialist Dan Cron remains on board with the club.

The Hurricanes remain winless in Super Rugby Aotearoa this season after losing to the Blues and Crusaders in the opening rounds of the competition, and will be searching for their first win when they face the Chiefs in Hamilton this Sunday.

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