Superb year finishes on a high for Ben Youngs
- Credit: PA
Ben Youngs' remarkable year of success has been capped off with his announcement as England's winner of the Old Mutual Health Player of the Series award.
The 27-year-old has played an integral part in the Eddie Jones revolution in 2016, playing in all of England's 13 successive wins under the Australian coach, starting all but two of those matches.
The Norfolk-born Leicester Tigers scrum-half helped England win their first Six Nations grand slam since 2003, to a series whitewash in Australia and a 100pc record during the autumn internationals.
His form saw him beat back-row workhorse Chris Robshaw to the award, following a man-of-the-match performance in last weekend's 37-21 win over Australia.
The former Holt and North Walsham junior scored a superb try after selling a dummy to opposite number Nick Phipps when taking a quick tap-penalty, and revealed afterwards that his celebration was a nod to injured team-mate Billy Vunipola.
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'Me and Billy have spent a fair amount of hours while in camp playing (computer game) FIFA and I normally beat him 8-0 and give a good celebration like that. So that was a little shout-out to him as he was with the team still,' Youngs told PA Sport.
'Obviously I'm pleased to have scored but the main thing is the result. Marland (Yarde) was outside me and he'd already scored so I wasn't going to give it to him.
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'The opportunity arose, I took it. Obviously had Marland not been there the defender wouldn't have fallen for the dummy.'
The former Gresham's School pupil picked up his 65th cap against Australia, leaving just 22 players ahead of him in England's all-time appearances list.
His cunning also set up two tries against South Africa and Youngs credits Jones' instructions not to indulge his sweet tooth for his resurgence – which has put him in a strong position to be named in the British & Irish Lions squad for the tour of New Zealand next year.
'I am really enjoying my rugby and that's credit to Eddie. He's not letting me have any chocolate!' Youngs joked. 'When I first turned up he said I needed to be lighter and leaner.
'The way the game is going, it is quicker and faster and he needed me to operate at a higher level than what I was operating at.
'When a coach tells you to lose a couple of kilos there could be a lot worse things to work on. Just cut down on portions and you are near enough there.'