Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

McCall hails young stars

Ben Spencer

Saracens go into next weekend's Heineken Cup tie at Biarritz as leaders of Pool Five with rugby director Mark McCall backing his young stars to light up the tournament.

Owen Farrell, 20, was man of the match with 22 points as Saracens beat Treviso 42-17, but for McCall the real eye-catcher was replacement scrum-half Ben Spencer, who came on for former Springbok Neil de Kock.

"Owen deserved to be named man of the match, but I was very impressed also by Ben, who came here only three months ago from Cambridge Rugby Club on a training contract," McCall said.

"It was initially to make up the numbers, but he is now on a contract beyond the end of this season and has just turned 19. That was his first taste of European rugby yet he looked comfortable in all that he did.

"When Richard Wigglesworth's injury ruled him out for the rest of the season, we decided not to sign any other cover at scrum-half. That's a measure of how well Ben has performed since arriving."

McCall also feels that former South Africa World Cup winning captain John Smit will enjoy himself after making a try-scoring debut off the bench.

"After six or seven years of leadership duties and responsibilities, John just wants to play rugby again," McCall said.

"What he brings to the squad does not require detailing in terms of ability and experience."

Smit added: "That was my first game as a non-captain for some time and it was enjoyable. Right now I am more worried about getting the calls right than anything else.

"It was good to come on, good to score a try, but getting the bonus point was what was most important for the guys."

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