One of Horowhenua's favourite sons makes a return to where it all began tomorrow when the Hurricanes host Crusaders at Levin Domain.

But former All Black Carlos Spencer won't be taking the field - he is part of the new-look Hurricanes coaching staff.

Although the mercurial playmaker would probably still be fit enough to play a game of footy, the now 43 year old has joined a coaching team led by new Hurricanes coach John Plumtree, in what could be looked at as a homecoming.

Spencer said he was really looking forward to returning to Levin.


"It's funny how some things work out. My first gig involved in coaching a New Zealand side in Super Rugby will be at the domain where I spent so much time as a kid," he said.

"I'm really looking forward to getting back there for the day with this team and showing a lot of friends and family what we are about."

The Levin ground would have special memories for Spencer - and Horowhenua-Kāpiti rugby fans - as it was the scene of some fine victories during what could now be looked on as a golden age for the province in the early 1990s.

It was an era of Horowhenua rugby that also produced Christian Cullen, aka The Paekākāriki Express, who also started his provincial career with Horowhenua-Kāpiti.

And who could forget the NPC third division victory against Whanganui at Spriggins Park in 1993.

Later that same season Horowhenua-Kāpiti took on an All Black-laden Auckland team for the Ranfurly Shield and, while outclassed, there were some unforgettable moments from the home side that day.

Horowhenua rugby fans would well remember a teenaged Spencer scoring a try under the sticks after selling a dummy to fullback Shane Howarth like it was yesterday.

His fellow Waiopehu College student Nopera Stewart also scored a try in that match from the wing.


Current HKRU CEO Corey Kennett, who was on the side of the scrum in 1993, said he was rapt when he learnt Spencer was on the Hurricanes coaching staff and he looked forward to shaking hands with him again.

"It's awesome. He's a good man and whenever he's back it's great to catch up with him," he said.

Spencer, who's coaching CV included stints with the Lions, Sharks, Eastern Province as well as time in Japan, welcomed the chance to take on the reigning champion Crusaders in pre-season.

"The coaching group is really keen to see the work we have done with the squad so far transferred out on the field to see how we are progressing, and there will be no better opposition to do that against than the Crusaders," he said.

It was with the Sharks in South Africa that Spencer worked with Plumtree.

Plumtree was in his first season at the helm after taking over from Chris Boyd in what was a natural progression as four seasons as assistant coach, and he had assembled a strong-looking squad.

There were six new faces in the initial 38-man squad named by Plumtree this season, including Auckland winger Salesi Rayasi, Wellington midfielder Billy Proctor and former Highlanders first five Fletcher Smith.

Other newcomers were Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, Du' Plessis Kirifi and Manawatū's Liam Mitchel, while former Hurricane James Marshall returned from the UK and Japan.

The Hurricanes assembled in late November last year.

Hurricanes communications manager Glenn McLean said there would be an opportunity for fans to meet and get autographs signed in the afternoon, between 2pm and 3pm.

McLean said although All Blacks hooker Dane Coles would not be putting his boots on for the match, the product of Paraparaumu would be on deck to support his team and meet fans.

Meanwhile, a crowd of about 5000 was expected - although that could expand - which was a massive number of people for the ground, considering it was unused for much of the year.

The match was a rare chance for Horowhenua rugby fans to see a match of this calibre in town. It was the first time in five years that the Hurricanes had played at a ground where they traditionally received massive support.

More than 6500 fans turned out to that match, also against the Crusaders, in 2014. Kennett said the 6500 figure was a record for the ground.

So far 3000 tickets had been sold and he was hopeful of a large walk-up crowd on the day.

Gates open at 1pm with kick-off at 3pm.