Norfolk star Ben Youngs would be ‘over the moon’ to retain place in British & Irish Lions squad
- Credit: PA
Ben Youngs looks set to retain his place in the British & Irish Lions squad for the highly-anticipated tour of New Zealand when it is confirmed on Wednesday.
The scrum-half played a starring role as Leicester Tigers moved closer to a place in the Aviva Premiership play-offs with a 30-3 home victory over Newcastle Falcons on Saturday.
Youngs making a try-saving tackle to prevent the visitors going ahead early on was added to by a trademark tap-and-go try which sealed the vital bonus point for the Tigers.
National media reports suggest the 27-year-old former Holt and North Walsham junior will be confirmed in the Lions squad when it is announced by head coach Warren Gatland at midday on Wednesday.
Youngs, who played an important part of the winning tour of Australia in 2013, looks likely to join Ireland's Connor Murray and Wales's Rhys Webb in the squad, with Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw yet to return from the ankle injury he picked up during the Six Nations.
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The Norwich-born England international said his weekend display was 'a nice little last push' ahead of the Lions confirmation, continuing: 'It is not in my hands, I will just wait and see. I will probably just go for a walk on Wednesday and I will either get a text message saying 'well done' or 'hard luck', so we will just wait and see.'
The former Gresham's School pupil came off the bench during the 23-21 win in Brisbane and then started the 16-15 loss in Melbourne four years ago, but was left out of the deciding Test in Sydney by Gatland as the Lions won 41-16 to seal a first series victory in 16 years.
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Older brother Tom started the first two matches and came off the bench in the decider but the 30-year-old Leicester hooker has since dropped out of England contention and isn't expected to retain his place in the squad.
This time it is dominant world champions New Zealand who await the tourists and with Ben having played a pivotal role as England have won back-to-back Six Nations titles under Eddie Jones, picking up his 70th cap earlier this year, Norfolk's star looks set for another chance to shine.
'Every player wants to do it and you don't want to get obsessed with it so it is a massive let-down if it doesn't happen,' he continued, speaking to The Guardian. 'So if it comes about – fantastic – I will be over the moon, but we will find out on Wednesday.
'A few boys are going to Cheltenham, I might go and join them there, we'll see. I'm not sure if I'll tune in or just wait and see but the only thing you can do is try and put your hand up, you don't know what style they want to play, what they're looking for, the only thing you can do is try and play as well as you can.'
Leicester have a four-point gap to maintain over Bath with two games remaining, against lowly Sale and Worcester. Should the Tigers qualify then Youngs would be needed for the semi-finals on the weekend of May 19-20 and potentially the final on May 27.
Players in the Premiership play-offs will then belatedly join up with the Lions ahead of the first tour game against a Provincial Union XV on Saturday, June 3.
Watch a video of Youngs' try against Newcastle above.
Lions itinerary (all 8.35am UK time)
Sat, June 3 – Provincial Union XV
Weds, June 7 – Blues
Sat, June 10 – Crusaders
Tues, June 13 – Highlanders
Sat, June 17 – Maori All Blacks
Tues, June 20 – Chiefs
Sat, June 24 – New Zealand
Tues, June 27 – Hurricanes
Sat, July 1 – New Zealand
Sat, July 8 – New Zealand