Tom Youngs well aware of tough challengers also pushing to be England’s World Cup hooker
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Dylan Hartley's suspension should make Norfolk's Tom Youngs nailed-on to start at hooker for England at the World Cup but the Leicester Tiger does not see it that way.
The 28-year-old, who appeared in all three British & Irish Lions Tests in Australia two summers ago, is part of the 45-man England squad out in Denver for a pre-World Cup camp.
Alongside him are three other hookers in Rob Webber, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Jamie George but the former Holt and North Walsham junior is comfortably the most experienced of the four with 22 England caps to his name.
But with the young upstarts breathing down his neck, Youngs knows he will have to be at his best throughout the World Cup camps to earn the No.2 shirt.
'I've been really impressed with Luke and Jamie – they are in there for a reason and you can see why,' he said. 'They are going really well and fair play to them, they're taking their opportunity and fighting it out.
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'Obviously one of us is going to lose out and you can see everyone is competitive in that sort of way to not be the one to miss out.
'I'm not at all thinking that my place in the squad is guaranteed. It's about being the best I can be and concentrating on your individual role.'
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England's pre-World Cup preparations include three warm-up games – home and away against France and at home to Ireland.
But with those games not taking place until August, Youngs admits the squad are enjoying their time out of the spotlight while it lasts.
'I don't think you have to talk about the aim being to win it – that's exactly what we want to do,' he added. 'Everyone's working extremely hard to tick every box so that we're fully prepared and raring to go against Fiji.
'It's still reasonably far away (September 18) but at the same time, it's getting closer every week. It's very exciting times.'
Tom Youngs was appearing alongside his England team-mates at the launch of the innovative England Rugby World Cup shirt #CommittedtoEngland. Visit Canterbury.com