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Youngs: I've learned from Dublin low

Ben Youngs suffered one of the toughest days of his young career in Dublin two years ago, when England's Grand Slam bid was demolished by Ireland.

The Leicester scrum-half will not be seeking direct revenge when England return to the Aviva Stadium next Sunday for a crunch RBS 6 Nations encounter. But it is the perfect stage upon which to prove he has lived up to his word and emerged from the bitter experience a better player.

Youngs was sin-binned for petulantly throwing the ball away as Ireland swept aside Martin Johnson's England 24-8, ruining their hopes of a first clean sweep since 2003. Afterwards, Youngs said: "I've played like an idiot but I have to man up and take it on the chin. This is a good test of character. Let's see what I am made of."

Lots has changed since that day, both for Youngs and England.

"I'm a far better player now after that experience," Youngs said after helping England open their Six Nations campaign with a 38-18 win against Scotland. "To lose the Grand Slam is never nice. I got sin-binned and things just didn't go my way. As hard as it is to deal with those moments and games, I am a strong believer that as you make mistakes you get better.

"It was a day at the office where I made a fair few mistakes. That day and getting bumped out of the World Cup (were my lowest points). It was a lot to handle but I certainly came out the other side a far better player.

"I'd rather have taken a Grand Slam. But saying that, you have to go through those hard times and defeats because it makes you learn very, very quickly. This side want to minimise that - we want to learn whilst winning."

England did win the the 2011 Six Nations title despite their defeat in Dublin but they will return a very different side, following Stuart Lancaster's revolution. Youngs said: "You can't compare it now to how it was back then. I think we probably tried to play too much rugby in the first 20 minutes and I don't think we understood what was coming at us.

"A lot of young guys from that squad are now two years wiser from club games, Test matches and Heineken games - they all add up. Look around the changing room and there is a huge amount of experience and also a huge amount of enthusiasm from the young guys as well. That helps drive the team.

"Stuart has come in and the long-term goal is 2015. That wasn't mentioned previously - then it was one tournament at a time, and now the goal is to get to 2015 at our peak. This is a journey on the way. Guys are just excited about the challenges."


From Belfast Telegraph