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Tom Youngs surprised at Owen Williams' international absence


Owen Williams was the Leicester hero in their European Champions Cup victory over Munster

Owen Williams was the Leicester hero in their European Champions Cup victory over Munster

Owen Williams was the Leicester hero in their European Champions Cup victory over Munster

Leicester captain Tom Youngs says he is surprised that Wales continue to overlook goalkicking match-winner Owen Williams.

The uncapped Tigers centre or fly-half booted six penalties - including a clinching strike from 52 metres - to floor European Champions Cup opponents Munster at Welford Road.

It was Williams' latest demonstration of an ice-cool temperament under pressure - and former England hooker Youngs is among his admirers.

"Owen has grown a lot," Youngs said, following an 18-16 win that kept Leicester in the Champions Cup quarter-final mix.

"He's a tremendous player, a competitor who wants to win. He is up for any sort of challenge.

"Owen is a pretty honest and reliable guy. Fair play to him. I can't imagine what that pressure is like when the whole crowd is silent and you have a big kick like that one."

Williams, 24, has yet to make a breakthrough at Test level and is currently not part of the Wales set-up, but Youngs added: "I am surprised because he offers something different to what they've got there.

"But I am sure he will just keep working hard and keep his head down.

"You enjoy playing with guys with good temperaments like that. They want to fight for everything, and they enjoy the challenge."

Leicester's victory over Munster came just a week after they were walloped 38-0 by the same opponents in Limerick, and Youngs admitted the return fixture build-up was a time of honesty and actions.

"It was probably one of the worst weeks I've had," he said. "When you lose 38-0, it's never great. We have been pretty honest with ourselves.

"It was really building up all week, and to go out and dog it out was fantastic.

"We knew we had to be a lot, lot better, and I thought we were.

"I think it proves the point that when we play with that intensity, we are there or thereabouts. It makes us tough to beat. We have got to bring that every week.

"There were plenty of words flying around after last week. There were no good words. To be honest, it was probably the best thing to do because we had to get it off the chest.

"If you are honest with each other, you can move on, and we were. We were nowhere good enough last week. It was embarrassing, really."

Leicester still have it all to do in their quest for a last-eight spot. They play Racing 92 and Glasgow next month, and effectively require five-point maximums in both games to give themselves a fighting chance.

Tigers rugby director Richard Cockerill said: "Away from home we have to be better, because when we lose away from home we lose heavily - or we have done certainly in Europe.

"In the last 10 years, we have played 35 (European) games here (Welford Road) and we have lost one.

"Clubs like us who are traditional and run our business in a good sound way should be congratulated. There may be some ups and downs on the way, but we will be here in 50 years and 70 years and 100 years. I feel passionate about that.

"It is not all fixed because we won one game with a kick from 52 metres. We have still got a lot of work to do on and off the field.

"That wasn't a team out there that didn't want to play, that wasn't a team that didn't want to fight for the club. I am not sure that is a team in decline."