Ben Spencer was feeding his children at home when he took a phone-call that could change the Saracens scrum-half’s life. A week after watching England demolish semi-final opponents New Zealand on television, Spencer will be on the bench in a World Cup final.
He admits it has been “a crazy few days” after answering England’s World Cup call when Willi Heinz was ruled out of the tournament due to a hamstring injury. Spencer will provide cover for Ben Youngs against South Africa in Yokohama on Saturday when England aim to become world champions for a second time.
“It’s been a crazy few days, and a brilliant few days. I have loved getting back in with the squad,” he said. “I don’t quite have a Stephen Donald story (the former New Zealand fly-half who was called up from holiday and then kicked a match-winning penalty in the 2011 final), you know, on a boat, fishing.
“I was just at home, feeding the kids, then got the phone call (from England’s team manager). They are a bit too young to understand, but my partner was thrilled. They actually got here (to Japan) this morning. It’s an exciting week for all of us.
“I trained all week with Saracens, and then we were due to play Leicester on the Sunday. I got the call on Saturday afternoon and then was on a flight Sunday morning, and arrived Monday morning. When I got the call it was a bit of ‘right, let’s get ready for a World Cup final’.”
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Spencer, 27, made his England on debut on tour against South Africa in 2018 and was a key performer as Saracens were crowned English and European champions last season. He narrowly missed out on World Cup squad selection but now has a dream opportunity to be involved in England’s latest bid for global glory.
“The good thing was that I had spent quite a lot of time with the squad in pre-season, so I know what’s going on and I’m not too out of the loop,” he added. “It’s not been too difficult to get up to speed, and Benny and Willi have helped me out with what is going on this weekend. It’s been good.
“In terms of the jet-lag I’ve actually been okay. The first night was tough, but I seem to be in the swing of things now. I think they (England) have been brilliant, every week the team has got better and you saw that against New Zealand.
‘If you’re sat at a table and one bloke says it, it is actually the other people at the table who will say, mate, that is not okay, that is not where the game is now’
– @RachaelBurf12 of @HarlequinsWomen and @BurfAcademy on how World Cup changed attitudeshttps://t.co/xH4g4kmljz
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) October 30, 2019
“I mentioned before the previous games, what I have taken from them is a constant want to get better from the squad, to want to improve week in, week out. It’s hugely exciting. It is every kid’s dream to play in a World Cup final, and for me to be out here and hopefully on Saturday, yeah, it’s amazing.
“I can’t say enough about the lads this week and how they have welcomed me into the squad and made me feel part of the squad. There is huge excitement about this weekend. The lads just can’t wait to get out there and get stuck in.”
– Press Association
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