Ben Youngs vows to stay grounded

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Ben Youngs is one of the hottest properties in English rugby after his man-of-the-match performance in last weekend's record 35-18 victory over Australia.

But the 21-year-old Leicester scrum-half insisted ahead of tomorrow's Twickenham showdown with Samoa: "I haven't achieved anything yet".

Youngs will win his sixth international cap - equalling the tally his father, Nick, earned as the England scrum-half in 1983-84 - with many tipping him for the very top.

But Youngs vowed he would not allow the adulation to go to his head.

"I think I have handled the attention so far and that is partly because of the support my family have given me," said Youngs.

"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.

"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' electrifying performance last weekend was encapsulated by his role in Chris Ashton's wonder-try.

England snatched a turnover on their own line and with Quade Cooper bearing down, Youngs opted not to kick but sold the Australian fly-half a dummy before attacking the blindside.

When Courtney Lawes drew two defenders and passed, Ashton raced in from 85 yards to score on of Twickenham's best tries.

World Cup winner Matt Dawson said recently that no other England scrum-half of the past 50 years would have had the audacity to pull off that move.

Youngs was humbled by Dawson's words of praise, as if to prove that a swollen ego is not something he will have to manage.

"That's very kind of him to say that. 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."

Youngs knows he will be a marked man, both tomorrow and in the future, after making such an early impression on international rugby.

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."

England manager Martin Johnson has opted for continuity in his side, changing just four members of the starting XV from the victory over Australia.

Nick Easter will captain a side that also features Matt Banahan at outside centre plus flankers Hendre Fourie and James Haskell.

The Samoans have an unchanged starting team after they pushed Ireland close in a 20-10 defeat last weekend.