TOKYO, 31 Oct - Ben Spencer was feeding his two young children last Saturday when his rugby world was turned upside down and the chance to face South Africa in the Rugby World Cup final suddenly became a reality.
Spencer was due to play for Saracens against Leicester the following day. Instead he was boarding a flight for Tokyo as replacement for Willi Heinz, who injured his hamstring helping England to defeat New Zealand 19-7 in the semi-final in Yokohama.
Moving on a week, instead of preparing for Saracens' game against London Irish on Saturday he is all set for the biggest challenge of his rugby career, as a probable second-half replacement at International Stadium Yokohama.
Sixteen Saracens have already featured at #RWC2019 with @Ben_spencer9 set to make it 17 in the World Cup final! 👏⚫️🔴— Saracens Rugby Club (@Saracens) October 30, 2019
Up to 11 from the club can feature in Saturday's showpiece 🔥
Here's a look at the key statistics of our Sarries in Japan👇https://t.co/CmS9R6ZDbS
Spencer had watched the semi-final victory and the thought had crossed his mind that an injury to Heinz could have personal relevance. The scrum-half, who has three England caps, failed to make the 31-strong squad for Japan because head coach Eddie Jones wanted to take only two No.9s.
Spencer, who was feeding daughter Millie (two and a half) and son Oscar (one and a half) when he took the call, said: “I was chatting to one of the lads here and saying that I’ve not really had the chance to process the whole situation yet. It’s been a crazy few days, and a brilliant few days. I’ve loved getting back in with the squad, and it’s just been mental really.
“I was at home on Saturday watching the game, and a few hours after got the phone call from the England team manager (Charlotte Gibbons), so that was it. The kids are a bit too young to understand but my partner was thrilled and they actually got here this morning. It’s an exciting week for all of us."
“It’s not been too tough,” Spencer added. “Got here Monday, then the good thing was that I’d 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.
“Obviously it was huge disappointment not making the original squad. Like Eddie said anything can happen and it is gutting for Willi (Heinz) because he has worked so hard."
“It’s not been too difficult to get up to speed, and Benny (Youngs) and Willi have helped me out with what’s going on this weekend."