- Hooker determined to dispel disappointment of last year's loss to Australia
- “I feel very passionate about playing for my country” – Youngs
Tom Youngs has hailed the invaluable learning experience of touring Australia with the British and Irish Lions, but says it will mean more to face the Wallabies in the white of England this Saturday at Twickenham.
Youngs capped a remarkable rise through the ranks of international rugby by featuring in all three Tests of the Lions’ 2-1 series win this summer – the phenomenal 41-16 victory in the deciding tie coming just nine months after his senior international debut against Fiji.
Photo: Getty Images
While reluctant to reflect for too long on a truly incredible achievement, the 26 year-old Leicester Tiger suggested that sharing a squad environment with the likes of Paul O’Connell and Adam Jones has instilled him with a heightened rugby awareness that can serve Stuart Lancaster well.
“It was a fantastic experience – one of the best I’ve had so far in my career and great to come away winning the series as well,” he said. “I thought Australia put up a great fight and the second Test was a great show from them. They put pressure on us for the third Test but we delivered.
“You can’t fail to grow as a player [on the trip] – you’re with such great guys and they show you the way, the little bit extra that you can bring back to your home country. We’ve talked about it with Faz and Wig about what we can bring and we’ve gone from there.
“It’s not confidence, but you’re certainly not shy to put your hand up and say the odd thing here and there. It’s the same at Leicester as well – you try to bring back what you’ve learned.”
Photo: Getty Images
Although his schedule at the end last season was hugely gruelling – flying to Hong Kong to join the Lions a matter of hours after winning the Aviva Premiership – Youngs has started this campaign with characteristic verve and energy.
His work in the loose has been outstanding for Leicester, while he is also primed to renew hostiles at set-piece as well, where a “huge battle” awaits.
And looking back to the 20-14 defeat to the Wallabies a year ago – just his second cap – Youngs insisted there was a score to settle.
“England- Australia has always been a massive rivalry – it was one game last year that dented our confidence a little bit, so we’re certainly looking forward to putting that right this year. We had a good training week in Leeds last week and we’re building towards it now.
“It does [mean more to play for England than it does the Lions]. You’re playing for your country – I feel very passionate about that and feel a great amount of pride playing for them.”