Youngs aims to follow dad to rare All Blacks victory
Aylsham's England rugby star Ben Youngs cannot wait to get his teeth stuck into New Zealand on Saturday – when he hopes to earn a similar scalp to his dad.
November 1983 saw Leicester and England scrum-half Nick Youngs play his part in a 15-9 Test victory over the All Blacks at Twickenham – one of just six wins in 105 years enjoyed by England over arguably rugby's greatest force.
And on Saturday, Nick's 21-year-old son Ben will take the No 9 shirt out at Twickenham to see if history can repeat itself.
'I've played them twice, in the Under-20s, and we got beaten both times,' admitted Youngs. 'In 2008 I was on the bench and we were hammered 36-3. Last year, in Tokyo, we were right there until half-time but I'd come off with a dead leg. They pulled away in the second half and we lost (44–28).
'There was this constant feeling that they could run riot if you let them. It's like they can score from anywhere. I'll be very excited. It's not every day you get an opportunity to play against such great players. I'll do everything in my power to put on a good performance.
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'The key thing is to play like I do every week for Leicester. I work really hard on the basics but my natural instinct is to make some fast breaks. It's something I've always been able to do and some players don't have that. You can't really learn it.
'So, while I can always improve the basics, my natural game is much more instinctive. It's probably why my favourite player when I was a kid was an All Black – Christian Cullen. I loved watching him because he made breaks out of nothing and beat defenders as if they weren't even there. He was sensational.'
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Not that Ben's father retold his glorious day against the new Zealand to help encourage his son, either into rugby or to improve at it.
'He's never mentioned beating the All Blacks to me, ever,' said Youngs. 'In fact, I don't even know how many caps Dad won. We never compare each other as players and he rarely gives me any advice at all.
'Don't get me wrong, Dad and I have a fantastic relationship but the game's moved on since he played and he leaves it up to me.'
Youngs, who learned the game on his parent's farm near Aylsham as well as junior stints with Gresham's School, plus Holt and North Walsham rugby clubs, has three caps to his name – halfway to matching his father's total.
And after promising much for Guinness Premiership champions Leicester Tigers last season, Youngs stepped up a level with his first international start, scoring a try and inspiring England to a rare Test win over Australia in Sydney in June.
'The night before that game I wasn't nervous; I couldn't wait,' said Youngs. 'I was extremely excited... I felt calm. It helps that you're surrounded by some fantastically experienced players and guys who've been there for years. It makes you feel at ease.
'That whole game felt like a turning point for England. I've obviously not been with the squad long, but the mood is definitely more upbeat.'
England face New Zealand on Saturday, before Australia, Samoa and world champions South Africa visit Twickenham later this month.