It’s a title that is barely believable, yet it is exactly what happened for one Super League player last weekend.
Daniel Spencer-Tonks of the Salford Red Devils capped off a remarkable rise to first-team rugby league with a debut in the 32-14 defeat to the Warrington Wolves last weekend.
This time last year, the former Gloucester Rugby Academy and Hartpury College player was playing for Cheltenham Tigers – a rugby union team in the seventh tier of that particular code.
However, on the advice of a friend with whom he used to play alongside for the University of Gloucestershire’s All Golds rugby league team, Spencer-Tonks tried his hand in a Salford trial, impressing enough to be given a shot in the Red Devils’ reserves.
With head coach Paul Rowley planning ahead for the Super League play-offs, a number of reserves were handed their opportunity against Warrington – with Spencer-Tonks being one of them.
The substitute forward impressed with his no-nonsense go forward as well as his big hits in defence with a number of Salford fans wanting to see more of him in years to come.
But, it’s been a long way back for the Gloucester man who was hurt badly in a serious road traffic accident in Herefordshire in 2017.
Spencer-Tonks was a passenger in a lorry on a country road when a wing mirror clipped a hedge before smashing through a side window, shattering the forward in glass. He had seven cuts to the side of his head and was covered in blood.
He told Gloucestershire Live: “I thought I was going to die if I’m honest. It was crazy. There was so much blood.”
But, despite paramedics initially fearing that he had severed an artery, Spencer-Tonks went on to make a full recovery.
That being said, Spencer-Tonks has also had to deal with a four-year ban for steroid usage from all sports, and, the forward reveals he felt like he had let his family down.
“They were rough times. I was 19 or 20 at the time and rugby was all I had ever known.
“It was obviously a very difficult time in my life. Everything I had ever known was taken away from me.
“My thanks and gratitude go to the Salford Reserves coaching staff and to the Cheltenham chairman, Steve Ratcliffe, for helping me out and looking out for me at Cheltenham.”
But, the rise to Super League has been incredible with Spencer-Tonks never giving up on his dream.
“It’s incredible really. Cheltenham are in the seventh tier and the Super League is essentially the Premier League of rugby league. There’s a massive difference.
“Determination and drive is what I would put it down to, and a never-say-die attitude.”