Ben Youngs hoping for another busy season with Leicester Tigers and England
- Credit: Archant
After the busiest season of his life, Ben Youngs is preparing for another campaign packed with possibilities at club and international level.
The scrum-half heads to Gloucester tonight as Leicester Tigers kick off the Aviva Premiership season with a televised clash at Kingsholme.
Youngs enjoyed part of his summer break back home in Norfolk, visiting former clubs Holt and North Walsham to lead a coaching session at each to keep himself ticking over.
That followed a season which saw him win his 50th England cap on the opening night of the Rugby World Cup on home soil last summer, help England to win their first Six Nations Grand Slam since 2003, reach the Premiership and European Champions Cup semi-finals with Leicester and play a key part in England's whitewash of Australia during their summer tour.
After that mixture of highs and lows, the former Gresham's School pupil relished his time Down Under.
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'It was a really good tour and in terms of our application and just the way that we went about how we wanted to approach all the Test matches was great,' Youngs said. 'The desire to go out and get the result was brilliant. It's a great place to travel and tour, but to go there and win is one of the hardest things to do, so to be able to have done that was really satisfying after a long, hard season.
'To go there and achieve that is something I'm very proud of.'
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Now the 26-year-old is raring to go all over again though, as Tigers look to turn semi-finals into finals at home and abroad.
There is added meaning for Youngs as he heads into his 11th season as a Leicester player though, with older brother Tom – recently recalled to England's elite player squad training group – appointed Tigers captain.
'I think it's a great decision to make him captain,' Ben said. 'His attitude towards playing and playing with purpose is second to none and the boys will get behind him and follow him.
'For him, of course, it's about playing and doing what he does every week because that's enough to lead and guys will be inspired just through watching his will to put his body on the line for the team.'
With South Africa wing JP Pietersen and Australia back Matt Toomua adding some extra stardust to Leicester's squad, in highly-rated head coach Aaron Mauger's second season alongside director of rugby Richard Cockerill, hopes of success are high at Welford Road.
'The last three years we've been in the semi-finals and lost all three,' Youngs said ahead of tonight's clash with Gloucester. 'I think it's critical that we try and target a home semi-final because we're quite a force at home, so trying to target a home semi-final and the top two has got to be a focus for us.'
Leicester Tigers (v Gloucester Rugby, tonight, 7.45pm – BT Sport One): 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Telusa Veainu, 13 Peter Betham, 12 Manu Tuilagi, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Freddie Burns 9 Sam Harrison; 1 Marcos Ayerza, 2 Tom Youngs (C), 3 Greg Bateman, 4 Ed Slater, 5 Dom Barrow, 6 Luke Hamilton, 7 Brendon O'Connor, 8 Lachlan McCaffrey. Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Graham Kitchener, 20 Will Evans, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Matt Smith, 23 Adam Thompstone