Youngs taking French lessons
Ben Youngs has studied former France scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili to develop the skills that will keep him in England's number nine jersey for Saturday's clash with Les Bleus.
Youngs, unusually, was asked to play the full 80 minutes of England's 12-6 win over Ireland in Dublin because of the control he was displaying in difficult Dublin conditions. In France, game management has traditionally been the job of the scrum-half rather than the fly-half and that is something Youngs has worked on.
Although he still enjoys attacking on instinct, the 23-year-old believes he is developing an all-round game that is more suited to the intensity of Test rugby. "One of the players I have studied quite a bit is Yachvili and the way he determines everything and how he plays at Biarritz," Youngs said.
"The French nine traditionally runs the whole show. In England it is the 10. Now, though, the way the game is moving nine and 10 both have to control each thing."
Danny Care kept the pressure on Youngs with an electrifying performance for Harlequins at the weekend, highlighted by a try from a trademark quick tap penalty. But Care has also been focusing hard on improving both his game management and his kicking in sessions with the former England scrum-half Kyran Bracken.
Youngs is set to retain this position for the game against France, where he is likely to start opposite one of the best scrum-half generals in the business in Morgan Parra.
"Look at Parra, a lot of the good things come through their nines," Youngs said.
"He dictates where the play is going, the ability to box kick or kick into the corner, the ability to look up and suddenly swing left when the 10 is lining up right. We have to keep our wits about us. We have all played against French teams enough to know they play in a similar way.
"He has to feel the heat and we must make sure we are making his decisions very hard. I have always loved the running game and I don't think that will go. It's just about picking the right moments.
"You get more knowledge through playing or making mistakes. You get used to different scenarios to know when's good to go and when's not. It's about recognising that and having the ability to execute it. That is something Mike Catt (skills coach) has been a huge influence on."