Greenwood rates Youngs as the best

World Cup winner Will Greenwood believes rising Norfolk star Ben Youngs is the form scrum-half in the Guinness Premiership, as the domestic rugby season nears its climax.

World Cup winner Will Greenwood believes rising Norfolk star Ben Youngs is the form scrum-half in the Guinness Premiership, as the domestic rugby season nears its climax.

With the Leicester Tigers already assured of top spot and a place in the play-offs, North Walsham youth product Youngs will have another chance to state his case for the England No 9 shirt currently held by Harlequins' Danny Care.

But Greenwood believes it is only a matter of time before Youngs - who won both the players' player and young player of the year award at Welford Road this season - gets a start for England.

"He has been the outstanding scrum-half in the Guinness Premiership there's no doubt about that," said Greenwood, who picks out the Tigers' winter victory over South Africa at Welford Road as a watershed moment.


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"Ever since he started against South Africa and set up a try for Dan Hipkiss, where he ran 70m and waltzed down the field against the world champions, he has been on fire. He has got a fantastic platform and he has so much confidence. He is strong and has got an absolute bullet of a pass - I don't think there's anyone who passes the ball as well as him. He does all the basics exceptionally well but on top of the basics he is so powerful around the ruck.

"He makes those extra yards and takes his opportunities when they arise. As a rugby fan you can't help but be impressed by Ben Youngs and I am sure the England management will have been as well."

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Former Gresham's School pupil Youngs, son of former England scrum-half Nick, is not the only up-and-comer who will be eyeing a place on the summer tour to Australia.

Players not involved in the Guinness Premiership final will be given the once over by Martin Johnson in the MasterCard Trophy against the Barbarians on May 30.

And with the likes of Riki Flutey and Delon Armitage a shadow of their former selves this season, Greenwood has urged Johnson to mix-up his selection for the tour Down Under.

He said: "Riki Flutey has been struggling for fitness and he is a bit like Delon Armitage, whose head has gone a bit, where they are not hitting the heights they once were.

"For me this is an opportunity to play a couple of others - most notably Ben Youngs - and rest some of your starters whose form has not been brilliant. There is nothing wrong with having a summer off particularly before the World Cup and let us see what some of these other young guys can do."

Another Norfolk and North Walsham product, Calum Green, will next week start preparations for IRB Junior World Championships.

The giant second row, who also now plays for Leicester Tigers, joins the rest of the England Under-20s squad at Bristol for prepartions before heading off to Argentina for the tournament.

England are second favourites after reaching the last two finals and will be hoping to follow Youngs from the Under-20 team to the senior national squad.

The MasterCard Trophy, England v Barbarians, takes place at Twickenham on May 30. Find out more about Be Number 23 at www.benumber23.co.uk /priceless

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