Youngs stunned to make England bench

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The Independent Online

Rookie scrum-half Ben Youngs admitted no one could have been more surprised than him to discover he was on the England bench for Saturday's Calcutta Cup showdown with Scotland.

Martin Johnson's decision was so unexpected that when the England manager told Youngs he would be involved, the 20-year-old thought he must have his wires crossed.



"Johnno called me aside and said 'You are on the bench'. My response was to say that Leicester don't have a game so I have got the weekend off," Youngs recounted.



"He went: 'No, no, no - you are on the bench'.



"It took a good five seconds to work out what he was actually meaning. It just shows I really wasn't expecting it. I am over the moon."



Youngs, whose father Nick was also an England scrum-half, has been fast-tracked into the squad after breaking into the Leicester first team this season.



The Tigers had backed Youngs to step up and replace Julien Dupuy, the French scrum-half who left Welford Road for Stade Francais in the summer.



And with Harry Ellis struggling to shake a career-threatening knee injury, Youngs made sure he took his chance at Welford Road with a series of eye-catching performances.



"I have been playing at Leicester and really enjoyed my rugby there," added Youngs.



"I have played in some fairly big games this year and things have accelerated from that far quicker than I would ever have imagined."



Youngs initially earned a call-up into the England Saxons before Johnson invited him to join the senior squad as Ellis' injury replacement.



He may still raw but, with the 2011 World Cup firmly in mind, the England management certainly like what they have seen.



"A few people were surprised when Leicester let Julien Dupuy go but they knew they had a good young player there," said Johnson.



"He is an instinctive player and pretty talented and his basic skills have held up under pressure in the big games he has played this season.



"It is a very harsh call on Paul Hodgson. He has been fantastic for us on and off the field."



Nick Youngs won six caps for England in 1983 and 1984 but his one trip to Murrayfield - playing scrum-half in a team featuring Les Cusworth, Clive Woodward and Dusty Hare - ended in an 18-6 defeat.



Youngs junior said: "I've never really had that family competition but if we win on Saturday, now you've told me, I'll certainly let him know."



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