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David Freezer, Twitter @davefreezer
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Norfolk rugby brothers Ben and Tom Youngs are both having to be patient as they try to force their way back into the England starting XV during this year’s Six Nations.
England caps: 35
Club record: 133 games, 130 points scored (Leicester Tigers)
British & Irish Lions tour of Australia 2013: Two Test appearances, seven overall, scoring 10 points
England caps: 17
Club record: 68 games, 30 points (Leicester Tigers)
British & Irish Lions tour of Australia 2013: Three Test appearances, seven overall
Scrum-half Ben and hooker Tom have both seen themselves slip from the England starting line-up in recent months, despite having been key parts of last summer’s successful British and Irish Lions tour of Australia.
Ben has been usurped from the England number nine shirt by Harlequins’ Danny Care and has seen Northampton’s Lee Dickson used as the scrum-half replacement in England’s opening two matches, against France and Scotland.
While Tom has seen Northampton captain Dylan Hartley regain the upper hand in their long-running battle for England’s number two shirt, although has seen action from the bench in both games.
Hartley looks likely to keep Tom out of the starting XV for Saturday’s Twickenham clash with Ireland (4pm) as well, having hit 20 successful lineouts during the 20-0 romp at a muddy Murrayfield against Scotland last time out.
Dylan Hartley is expecting Tom Youngs to keep pushing him at number two for England and knows all about the determined character which saw Youngs convert from being a centre as a youngster, to a Lions hooker.
“I always said everyone has their time in the sun,” Hartley told Sky Sports. “Tom was in great form last year and sometimes you have to wait for an opportunity.
“That’s exactly what I’ve done. It’s pleasing that they weren’t empty words, that it came back right for me.
“But I’m aware that Tom’s very resilient and he’s not going to back down, that he’s going to be coming back. I’m sure he’s got some sort of masterplan to get back in the team.”
Both were among 15 players released from the squad for the weekend by England head coach Stuart Lancaster, pictured, and both started for Leicester Tigers against Gloucester. Ben played 70 minutes of the 11-8 victory for Leicester, before being replaced by David Mélé, and Tom was replaced by Rob Hawkins in the final minute of the Aviva Premiership clash.
The match offered the Aylsham brothers a chance to show Lancaster, that they were not going to fade into the Red Rose shadows.
Their availability was a welcome boost for Tigers’ director of rugby Richard Cockerill, with Ben being given instructions from Lancaster to work on his game management and his kicking game.
“Ben is working hard at his game,” Cockerill told the Leicester Mercury. “He’s just put his head down, shrugged his shoulders and got on with it.
“He can understand why the selection has been made. Whether he agrees with it or not is irrelevant at this point.
“He’s just got to keep working hard and have a positive attitude.”