As Ben Spencer sets out to transfer his LV= Cup form onto the Aviva Premiership Rugby stage, the scrum-half admits lining up alongside Charlie Hodgson eases the considerable pressure.
Spencer is preparing for his first Aviva Premiership Rugby start of the season – and just his fifth in total – when Saracens host table-topping Northampton Saints on Sunday.
However, the 22-year-old is not short of match practice in recent weeks, starting LV= Cup victories against Harlequins and Ospreys and kicking all of Sarries’ 21 points in the latter.
While Richard Wigglesworth is absent on international duty, Spencer is facing a showdown with veteran South African Neil de Kock for the No.9 shirt.
But it is another experienced head – former England fly-half Charlie Hodgson – whose name is on the youngster’s lips ahead of this weekend.
“Charlie Hodgson is a brilliant person to have around the club – I can’t speak highly enough of him,” said Spencer.
“Obviously he’s been a fantastic player for a number of years and he will give you advice whenever you need it. It’s a lot easier playing alongside him because he gives you so much confidence.
“He’s a great communicator on the pitch and a great guy to have playing outside you – he makes a lot of decisions on the pitch.
“Hopefully we can team up well and form a good partnership again against Northampton.
“It has been going well for me in the games I’ve played this season, especially in the LV= Cup. But it’s about taking that form into these games coming up now.
“It can be difficult to build up any form when you’re not playing regularly but it has been pretty good over the last few weeks.”
Saracens are looking to get back to winning ways on Sunday after a tense 21-21 draw with Leicester Tigers last time out – on that occasion it was Hodgson who kicked seven penalties.
And Spencer admits a lack of discipline let them down at Welford Road, with Owen Williams’ late strike from the tee earning Leicester an equal share of the spoils.
“We were a little bit frustrated to only draw with Leicester last weekend,” he added. “But when we look at the game as a whole, we can only blame ourselves.
“Discipline is something that we mention quite a lot at the club – it’s one of our core values and it wasn’t good enough last weekend. We try to take it into every game and it will definitely be a priority for us this weekend.
“We’ve had a brilliant week’s training and we’ve moved on from the Leicester match quite quickly.”
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