Youngs: Norfolk keeps me grounded
Ben Youngs insists his Norfolk roots will always keep him grounded – despite the fact he is fast becoming one of the hottest properties in English rugby.
The former Gresham's pupil was named man-of-the-match for his scintillating performance in England's record 35-18 victory over Australia last weekend.
World Cup winner Matt Dawson said afterwards that no other England scrum-half of the last 50 years would have had the audacity to pull off the move that sparked Chris Ashton's wonder try.
But Youngs refuses to get ahead of himself. The 21-year-old from north Norfolk is not motivated by fame or celebrity but the genuine desire to become the best scrum-half he can be. Many believe that will be enough to make him the best in the world.
Youngs knows that if he ever lost sight of that goal he would not be short of family members ready to bring it right back into focus.
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'I think I have handled the attention so far and that is partly because of the support my family have given me,' said Youngs, whose father, Nick, won six caps for England in 1983-84.
'I'm a grounded lad anyway so there will never be a case of me stepping out above my station. I never intend to and I hope I never do.
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'I have a massive family of 28 cousins and I'm from an area of Norfolk which is very remote. I am from a farming family and very down to earth. The support of my aunts, my uncles and my cousins has been phenomenal. Obviously my Mum and Dad have been amazing all through my career with the way they've supported me.
'Dad was pretty pumped with how the game went last weekend.
'I play rugby because I love it. I keep playing because I love it and the day I stop enjoying it is the day I hang up my boots. I can't start thinking I've achieved something now because I have achieved nothing yet.'
Youngs' bold move against Australia was to dummy a clearance kick from behind his own line and launch a counter-attack which led to Ashton scoring one of the great Twickenham tries.
He was humbled by Dawson's words of praise and remains uncomfortable at being singled out in front of his team-mates.
'I don't really like watching myself in a review, I get quite embarrassed,' he admitted. 'I had a small part to play in that try. Okay, I went for it and that was the thing that got us going. Sometimes in rugby your instinct takes over. But Chris ran 95 yards with guys chasing him down. It was incredible really.'
Youngs will make his fourth consecutive Test start against Samoa on Saturday.
The England manager Martin Johnson selects his players as much on their attitude as their ability and he has no doubts that Youngs is destined for the top.
'Rugby is a very level society, no-one is allowed to get too far ahead of themselves and I have no issues that Ben would do anyway,' said Johnson.
'He is from a good club, a good family and a good rugby background. He is a good lad and just wants to get better.'
Youngs knows he will be a marked man, both on Saturday and in the future, after making such big impression on the international game so early in his career.
But staying one step ahead of the opposition is a challenge that excites him, particularly with the World Cup looming in 10 months time. Youngs could well be one of the stars of the tournament.
'The Samoans offer a very different challenge, a very physical challenge,' said Youngs.
'I have to keep moving on as a player. I have to keep working and adapting.
'If I can do that then hopefully I can keep the teams I come up against on their toes.
'That is the challenge for me – to keep adapting and changing the way I play so that no-one catches up with me and no-one will be able to work out how I play.'