Six Nations 2013: Ben Youngs says England are now better placed to win Grand Slam
England play Wales in Cardiff this Saturday
Tuesday 12 March 2013
Ben Youngs insists England are better placed to win the Grand Slam now than two years ago when they fell at the final hurdle in Dublin.
Youngs is one of only four survivors from the side hammered 24-8 by Ireland - Chris Ashton, Dan Cole and Tom Wood complete the quartet - likely to be retained against Wales on Saturday.
Victory at the Millennium Stadium would secure England's first Grand Slam for a decade, but if they lose by eight points or more Wales are guaranteed to defend their title.
"There was more experience in the side two years ago, but the group we have now is more of a collective - we're all in it together," Youngs said.
"There's a huge culture and ethos within the team that often steers you through. It's completely different to two years ago.
"I'd definitely rather be in the position we are now than two years ago. We're in a stronger position now.
"There are a lot of guys who haven't experienced this type of match yet, which is probably a good thing.
"They're at a good age when youth takes over, so you don't worry about it too much.
"Those of us who played against Ireland learnt a huge amount. Firstly, you need to make sure you don't get ahead of yourselves.
"You must also peak at the right time and don't let the occasion get to you.
"It's just about going out and winning, not playing with a particular style or scoring loads of tries.
"If you're presented with any opportunities you must take them because it will be fine margins and that's one of the key lessons we learnt from 2011."
While Lansdowne Road in 2011 has provided several important lessons for Saturday, the build-up to this Grand Slam match has been more high profile and Youngs identifies several reasons for the increase in hype.
"The expectation is probably more now. Rugby's grown a bit since then and the English team going to Wales has a different feel to it," the Leicester scrum-half said.
"With the history of the fixture, there is something a little bit more to it. That'll continue to grow during the week and when you get to Cardiff you sense it.
"You've got to turn up and seize the moment. You get presented with these opportunities very rarely and when you do you've got to take them.
"The Millennium Stadium is such a great place to play. Yes it's intimidating and yes it's a big, loud stadium, but it's also a great place to pay.
"What a great place to hopefully go and win a grand slam."
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