- Scrum half eager to take gilt-edged chance with a good performance
- Six Nations performances were good but South Africa is a different beast – Youngs
After beating Danny Care and Lee Dickson in a tight selection at scrum half, Ben Youngs has vowed to throw down a marker for the remainder of England’s tour of South Africa with a good showing in the first Test at Durban.
Despite losing out to Dickson at the back end of this spring, Youngs has been granted another opportunity by Stuart Lancaster and, although acknowledging the considerable rivalry for his role, seemed keen to impress.
“I know I’ve only got this shirt for the opening game and it’s up to me to make sure I put my hand up for the following one with a solid match,” explained Leicester Tiger, who will win his 23rd cap on Saturday afternoon.
“There are a lot of good nines and a lot of competition all over the place. Hopefully with that comes a good performance, which we are looking to put in straightaway.
“We are getting the best out of each other individually and that’s also good for England. We all want to start and I am fortunate enough to do that this weekend. That can change but I am looking forward it.”
Though Youngs and his Tigers clubmates suffered the disappointment of an Aviva Premiership final defeat to Harlequins at the end of last month, the halfback admitted his enjoyment at returning to the East Midlands and “getting back into a groove” after what was an indifferent RBS 6 Nations on a personal level.
While England won four games out of five in the tournament, Youngs was below par until the final match against Ireland, in which he grabbed an opportunistic try from the replacements’ bench.
Photo: Getty Images
Now, having been handed what he called a “fresh start,” the 22 year-old is eager to take on the Springboks:
“South Africa is certainly a different beast but we are fully aware of the way they play and it is up to us to physically match them. It will be a massive day for the forwards and, as a scrum half, you always want to be playing behind a pack that is going forward. I have no doubt that the boys will turn up and go toe-to-toe with South Africa.
“Heyneke Meyer is a very good coach and won the Super 14 title (back in 2007) with the Blue Bulls using a very physical, confrontational game, so we have an inkling of how they will come at us.
“This is a great opportunity – not because of the situation they are in, but because of the fact that we are a very good side and, on our day, can compete with anyone. We have had seven losses in a row against them, so it would be nice to turn that around and work towards getting seven wins the other way.”
Youngs finished with a quick word on his brother Tom, whose Meyer-inspired move from centre to hooker three years ago has led to a place in England’s touring party:
“It has been a huge task to move into the front row, especially with the physicality at this level and the high standards that are required of every attribute, not just lineout throwing and scrummagging.
“He’s worked extremely hard and has been given a pat on the back with this call-up. The England environment should help him even more now.”