Youngs grateful for Aussie influence
November 15, 2010
England scrum-half Ben Youngs looks to exploit a gap during Saturday's clash with the Wallabies © Getty Images
England dynamo Ben Youngs has revealed how his man-of-the-match display against Australia on Saturday was inspired by a former Wallaby.
Youngs set the tone for England's best performance of Martin Johnson's regime with an outstanding display and it was his piece of instinctive magic which created Chris Ashton's 100-metre try.
The 21-year-old from Leicester was humble about his achievement afterwards and directed all the credit towards Matt O'Connor, the Tigers' Australian backs coach who claimed his solitary Wallabies cap against Ireland in 1994.
"Matt O'Connor has had a massive influence on my career," Youngs said. "The way he plays and his philosophy on the game, I can't thank him enough. I certainly wouldn't be where I am as a player, and playing for England, if it wasn't for him. Those parts of my game, where it is 50-50 but you take a risk, are down to him."
Youngs had the audacity to dummy a clearance kick from behind his own line after England had won a key turnover before launching a thrilling counter-attack. Courtney Lawes then drew two defenders and slipped the pass for Ashton to scorch home from 85 metres and score one of the great Twickenham tries.
World Cup-winning scrum-half Matt Dawson said no England scrum-half of the last 50 years would have attempted what Youngs pulled off. "That's very kind of him," Youngs added. "Sometimes in rugby your instincts just take over. I saw the gap and went for it. The coaches back you 100% which makes you more confident knowing you can try things. When you think you have seen something you have just got to go.
"If I had been caught and dragged over I'd have looked like a right idiot! I have probably tried it a few times at Leicester and it hasn't paid off and that has probably taught me when to do it."
Youngs will equal his father Nick's tally of six England caps if he is involved against Samoa on Saturday and is already seen as a key figure in England's World Cup ambitions. "It was only my fifth cap against Australia so I am very new to this," he said. "I think that helps sometimes on the field because you are a bit naive at times. I have a lot to learn and a lot to develop but I have the right coaches beside me at Leicester and also here.
"Hopefully opponents won't ever suss me out. You have to keep bringing different things to the game. If you stand still as a player and don't adapt you won't improve."
The same applies to England as a team and Youngs is acutely aware that Saturday's win has to be a springboard with the World Cup 10 months away. "I think it sends out a pretty good message," he said. "But if we don't put in good performances against Samoa and South Africa people will see it as a one-off. We can't lapse at all. We need to keep going up the ladder. We have to be consistent. We have to keep playing well and we are more than capable of doing that."
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