Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

Youngs: England will be ready for Italy

Ben Youngs believes England are the fittest squad in the RBS 6 Nations Championship

Ben Youngs promises England will not take victory against Italy for granted as they look to keep their Grand Slam dreams alive.

Having impressively overcome Scotland, Ireland and France, Stuart Lancaster's side are on course for a 13th Grand Slam crown. The trip to Wales on the final day looks set to be the main stumbling block, with England expected to roll over Italy when they come to Twickenham on March 10 - although last year's Six Nations clash highlighted the problems the Azzurri can cause.

Leicester scrum-half Youngs started that game in Rome, where England had to come from nine points behind before securing a 19-15 victory, and he said: "It is another challenge and everything seems to be new this season in terms of us lot learning. Now the expectation is on us and it has not been since this group got together."

He added: "I definitely think we have got the right people around us and the right squad to be able to deal with that expectation and make sure we approach it like any other game.

"Everyone is realising this is where we want to be heading in terms of standards.

"(The World Cup in) 2015 is the goal and this is where we need to go and where we need to be, and either you work hard and we are all in it together or you get left behind."

One of the most noticeable improvements has been England's ability to push on in the final quarter.

Asked if he thinks England are the fittest squad in the championship, Youngs said: "Yeah, I do. You can feel the momentum of a game. That is why we look to play a high-tempo game, we feel a lot of teams will blow out and we can push on in the last 15 to 20 minutes.

"Psychologically, when you see a team fatigued, hunched over, it is a huge emotional boost, knowing how you are also feeling.

"As a squad we have said no matter how tired you are, you don't show it. It does have a knock-on effect within your side and also for the opposition."

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