Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 April 2014

Youngs surprised at England start

Ben Youngs will start for England against South Africa

When Ben Youngs left Twickenham last week and jumped in the car to go home, he had no expectation of starting for England against South Africa this weekend.

Youngs' bold decision to tap a quick penalty as England chased the game had backfired, Australia won 20-14 and he was in no mood to go back to the team hotel.

"After last week's game I was going to stay at Pennyhill Park but I jumped in my car and drove home, just to get away. Otherwise I'd have moped about on the Sunday giving myself a kicking," Youngs said.

"When you make a mistake you know you've made it. At that moment I didn't expect to start this week. But Stuart Lancaster spoke to me and said he feels I'm best suited to start this weekend. I know when I'm on song it goes alright and hopefully that will be enough to lead us to a position to win the game."

Youngs is engaged in a nip-and-tuck battle for the scrum-half jersey with Danny Care, who started the games against Fiji and Australia. Care was guilty of two loose kicks last weekend, one which led to the Australia's try and another which led to the Wallabies kicking a penalty.

Lancaster has stressed to Youngs the importance of "playing in the right areas", of managing the game so South Africa's heavy-duty runners cannot build any pressure in the England 22.

But Youngs refuses to completely abandon his natural style and if the quick tap penalty is on against the Springboks, he will not be afraid to take it. A scrum-half is in an invidious position when he opts to tap and go. If the try is scored, or at least a penalty kicked, it was the right decision.

If the finishers fail to finish, the blame gets shifted back to the scrum-half whose quick thinking denied the team a shot at goal.

"I'm an instinctive player. It's the way I play. I won't change it. You make a lot of calls. Sometimes you get them right, sometimes you get them wrong," Youngs said.

"I wouldn't change the position I play. I love that pressure to make the big calls and do the right thing. It comes with experience, the more you play the better you become at it. Ruan Pienaar (South Africa's scrum-half) is a guy I look up to. He does the right things at the right times. He has a huge amount of experience."

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