Updated: Friday, 19th December 2014 @ 10:19am

Former Manchester Rugby Club ace Ben Spencer tipped for the top by World Cup winning captain John Smit

Former Manchester Rugby Club ace Ben Spencer tipped for the top by World Cup winning captain John Smit

By Jack Bradshaw

Last season he was plying his trade in National One with Cambridge but in just a matter of months Ben Spencer is a Saracens regular and is being tipped for the top by World Cup winning captain John Smit.

Stockport-born Spencer, who spent 11 years at Manchester Rugby Club while attending Nevill Road Junior School and Bramhall High School, started the summer expecting to play for Cambridge, but after joining Saracens on loan and impressing in pre-season performances against Jonny Wilkinson’s Toulon and Bedford Blues, he was offered a full-time deal.

Smit, who has played more than 100 times for South Africa, linked up with Spencer and Saracens in November after the 2011 World Cup and has now been working with the scrum-half for nearly six months.

Spencer, who has already played for the Saxons this season, has found himself behind Neil De Kock and Richard Wigglesworth for large chunks of the season to-date at Saracens.

But Smit has seen enough from the former England Counties international to see Spencer will be a Saracens and England starter full-time in the coming months after enjoying a meteoric rise to prominence this season.

“Ben Spencer is a good story – what a wonderful player,” said Smit. “He’s more than comfortable with the Premiership level – from where he’s come from at Cambridge he’s adapted really well.

“He’s phenomenally skilful; he’s got really good decision-making ability at a young age and that will only get better especially as you’re playing with the likes of Wiggy (Richard Wigglesworth) and Neil (De Kock).

“He’s played Saxons already, it’s crazy, and it’s a meteoric rise. He’s going to be another good player for England in the future.

“Also it’s probably a position England could do with, having another strong contender at scrum-half because there’s not a lot out there at the moment when there’s a few injuries.

“I’ve ever confidence that Ben will go on to a long and successful career for both England and Saracens.”

After the return to full-fitness of De Kock and Wigglesworth – Spencer has found himself out of the matchday 22 and with a watching brief as the Premiership season comes to a conclusion.

And Smit is convinced Spencer would be a starter elsewhere in the Premiership and his exclusion from the Saracens squad in recent months highlights the strength in depth at the defending champions. 

“Having a guy like that who’s struggling to make the 23 at the moment is an unbelievable sign of where the club is at – he would be playing regular first team rugby elsewhere if he wasn’t at Saracens,” added Smit.

“Again, he’s just re-signed and I quite like to see when a guy that age who realises he has come through quite quickly, instead of getting frustrated about not being selected every weekend, he looks at the long-term picture.

“He realises the kind of situation he’s in, the opportunity he’s got here to learn and be nurtured and the special nature of the club he’s at.”

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