Friday, November 23, 2012
Ben Youngs will start a Test alongside his brother Tom for the first time tomorrow when England take on South Africa in the third QBE international at Twickenham.
The Norfolk pair were both in the squad for the previous two matches against Fiji and Australia but while hooker Tom started both games to win his first caps his younger sibling had to be content with a place on the bench.
On each occasion Ben got on to the pitch to play alongside his brother – but to be there together at kick-off is something different altogether.
“It’s going to be a very, very special moment,” Youngs said.
“To play alongside your brother in an England shirt at Twickenham, it’s going to be a pretty amazing feeling.
“I’ll try to feed off that emotion and energy and try to put it into my performance. I’ll stand beside him at the anthem. He’s my brother, I want to be shoulder to shoulder with him.”
When Ben Youngs left Twickenham last week and jumped in the car to go home, he had no expectation of starting for England this weekend.
Youngs’ bold decision to tap a quick penalty as England chased the game had backfired, Australia won 20-14 and he was in no mood to go back to the team hotel.
“After last week’s game I was going to stay at Pennyhill Park but I jumped in my car and drove home, just to get away. Otherwise I’d have moped about on the Sunday giving myself a kicking,” Youngs said.
“When you make a mistake you know you’ve made it. At that moment I didn’t expect to start this week.
“But Stuart Lancaster spoke to me and said he feels I’m best suited to start this weekend. I know when I’m on song it goes alright and hopefully that will be enough to lead us to a position to win the game.”
Youngs is engaged in a nip-and-tuck battle for the scrum-half jersey with Danny Care, who started the games against Fiji and Australia.
Care was guilty of two loose kicks last weekend, one which led to the Australia’s try and another which led to the Wallabies kicking a penalty.
Lancaster has stressed to Youngs the importance of “playing in the right areas”, of managing the game so South Africa’s heavy-duty runners cannot build any pressure in the England 22. But Youngs refuses to completely abandon his natural style and if the quick tap penalty is on against the Springboks, he will not be afraid to take it.
A scrum-half is in an invidious position when he opts to tap and go. If the try is scored, or at least a penalty kicked, it was the right decision. If the finishers fail to finish, the blame gets shifted back to the scrum-half whose quick thinking denied the team a shot at goal.
“I’m an instinctive player. It’s the way I play. I won’t change it. You make a lot of calls. Sometimes you get them right, sometimes you get them wrong,” Youngs said.
“I wouldn’t change the position I play. I love that pressure to make the big calls and do the right thing. It comes with experience, the more you play the better you become at it.”
The call-up for the Youngs brothers is good news for two Norfolk youngsters who will be walking out with them on to the Twickenham pitch. Ben’s mascot is Rob Mackenzie from Bessingham and Tom’s is Oliver Jaggard of North Elmham. Both play in the Under-12s at Holt where Ben and Tom started out.
Joe Launchbury will make his first Test start after Lancaster made six changes for tomorrow’s match.
The 21-year-old Wasps lock has replaced his club-mate Tom Palmer from the second row as part of a forward reshuffle that has seen Lancaster change half his pack from the 20-14 defeat to Australia.
Loosehead prop Alex Corbisiero, blindside flanker Tom Wood and number eight Ben Morgan will all make their first starts of the autumn.