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Ben Youngs wants Leicester to return to the top of the tree

Published 11/12/2015

Ben Youngs believes Leicester will soon recapture their glory days in Europe
Ben Youngs believes Leicester will soon recapture their glory days in Europe

Ben Youngs insists Leicester are building a team capable of reclaiming the club's position among Europe's elite.

It has been eight years since the Tigers reached the final of the northern hemisphere's most prestigious competition, losing to Wasps at Twickenham, while the most recent of their two titles was delivered in 2002.

But they are now among four English teams who top their Champions Cup pool heading into back-to-back fixtures against Munster, beginning at Thomond Park on Saturday evening, as the Aviva Premiership hints that a resurgence on the continent is underway.

Youngs has joined Manu Tuilagi, Freddie Burns and Ed Slater in signing new contracts, while former South Africa captain Jean de Villiers is expected to make his debut on Boxing Day with Australia centre Matt Toomua joining next season.

Flanker Brendon O'Connor and wing Peter Betham have made an impact following their summer arrivals while assistant coach Aaron Mauger has already stamped his mark on the backline.

"We're beginning to look like a team that will genuinely be able to get out of the pool over the coming years and be competitive in the quarters and the semis," England scrum-half Youngs said.

"In previous years we haven't been competitive, we've struggled to get out of our group.

"This season we're in a tough pool but a good pool. Next season, with the guys who are coming in and who they are looking to get in, it will be exciting.

"The salary cap changes over the next couple of years allows English clubs, if they have the budget, to get top players rather than them always going to France.

"We can tempt them to come here, which is great. You will see English clubs over the next couple of seasons be more competitive."

Eight years ago Leicester became the first team to storm Thomond Park in the Heineken Cup and Youngs believes Saturday's trip to Munster will offer an insight into the strength of the Tigers of 2015.

"This game is a good measuring stick for us. (Assistant coach) Geordan Murphy spoke this week about when they went there in 2007 and won and how that stuck with many of those guys," Youngs said.

"Those guys said that was the best win they ever had in a Leicester shirt. We've spoken about that and if we get the win it will be a game we remember for a ling time.

"Munster's foundations are the lineout and driving maul. They try and squeeze you in terms of kicking to the corners and you live off scraps."

With the Tigers challenging for silverware on two fronts and the city's football team atop the Barclays Premier League, Leicester is riding the crest of a sporting wave.

"It is good to see the Foxes doing so well. It has always been a huge sporting city. If rugby is going well and football as well, it is great for the city and the fans," Youngs said.

"At the moment with how we are going and certainly how they are going, we are in a good place. The city gets a good buzz and you can pick up and feed off that."

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