Norwich-born England scrum-half Ben Youngs all set for rugby’s Six Nations
Norwich-born England scrum-half Ben Youngs looks to have got his mojo back just in time for the start of the Six Nations this weekend.
The Leicester No 9 did not have the same impact at last year's World Cup that his arrival on the international stage had promised – when he scored on his full debut against Australia in Sydney – but was hardly helped by a knee injury which affected his preparations.
Now back to form and fitness at club level, Youngs, 22, is champing at the bit to make amends and in no large part due to the back-to-basics culture introduced by England coach Stuart Lancaster in the build-up to Saturday's match with Scotland at Muarrayfield (5pm).
'We are 100 per cent confident in our game plan,' said Youngs, who started playing as a mini at Holt. 'We've got a very exciting team and a very exciting squad. Scotland are a good side. They pushed us very hard at the World Cup [when England won 16-12] and we were somewhat lucky – well, not lucky, it was a great finish by Ashy [Chris Ashton] – but they had a chance with a drop-goal at the end … I don't think we've won there since 2004 so it's a massive challenge for us. But we know what we'll be trying to do.'
Asked where he in particular felt he could hurt the opposition, Youngs said he would be putting the team first if he is called upon.
'Well, first I've got to be selected,' he said. 'But if I get the opportunity then it's about playing to our system, and if we do then I know opportunities will come.
'If I stick to what we want to do then we'll be in a good position. Obviously I like to make breaks but you can't force those things. I'll just try to emulate what I do at Leicester. That's why we've all been picked for the squad – because of our club form.'
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Youngs added that despite his age he felt he was one of the 'six or seven' leaders within the squad who would be taking responsibility on the pitch.
'I'm 100 per cent sure that [new England captain] Chris Robshaw will do a great job. He has shown at Quins, going to Toulouse and leading them to a win there, what an inspiring guy he is.
'At the same time there are a lot of leaders in the team. You've got Dylan Hartley who is captain at Northampton. You've got Tom Croft who is another good leader. You can't just have one leader. There are five, six seven guys on the team who are leading. But Chris makes the final call and he's very good at that.
'It was one of the things Gary Neville told us when he came to speak to us last week; the fact that you need six or seven guys who can put their hands up and take responsibility.
Half-backs have a lot of stuff to deal with anyway in terms of dictating patterns of play, so you are involved in that leadership group.'