Norfolk star determined to erase memories of World Cup disappointments with England
PUBLISHED: 11:41 18 September 2019 | UPDATED: 11:41 18 September 2019
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Norfolk's Ben Youngs is looking to make it third time lucky as England embark on the World Cup bid in Japan this weekend.
The former Holt and North Walsham player is a veteran of the disappointments of 2011 and 2015.
"Neither of them was the outcome I wanted," said Youngs. "I think anyone wants to look back at the end of their career and feel proud of success - and the World Cup is always the pinnacle.
"This opportunity here with this side is probably the best shot I have of being able to look back at a period of my career and say, yeah, that was something really special."
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Eight years ago, in New Zealand, England went out in the quarter-finals and four years ago failed to get out of the group stages. The 2011 showpiece event was marred by off-field stories - the tabloid spotlight was on an infamous team night out and Manu Tuilagi jumping off a ferry into Auckland harbour. Youngs scored a crucial try as England beat Argentina in their first group game, but then the struggles began.
"I'm proud of the fact I've been to two World Cups before - I'm proud of 2011 in that I was there, and in 2015 representing England at a home World Cup, which was an achievement in itself," Youngs told BBC Radio 5 Live.
"Every experience is different. They all teach you something. And the biggest experience from 2011 was making sure you stay focused on the pitch and deliver on that. There were a lot of distractions going on in that tournament that didn't help us to deliver. I can sit here and say I'm determined it won't happen again, but I can't guarantee it.
"But it's what coming up that matters - about this group now under Eddie Jones. There are many guys who played in 2011 and 2015 who didn't get another opportunity at a World Cup."
England's campaign begins against Tonga in Sapporo on Sunday and Youngs is wary of the threat they pose.
"When you play Tonga and Samoa and South Africa, you know they're regarded as the most physical teams, and they seldom disappoint," he said. "We've got to make sure that physically we're up to the challenge - they're going to get a lot of belief through how they carry the ball and how they tackle."