Leicester Tigers’ ‘rock’ Tom Youngs determined to lead side in play-offs bid
PUBLISHED: 15:23 17 May 2017 | UPDATED: 15:36 17 May 2017
Leicester captain Tom Youngs is keen to lead his team in Saturday’s Aviva Premiership semi-final against Wasps.
Youngs’ wife, Tiffany, has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, with his brother, England scrum-half Ben, subsequently pulling out of the British and Irish Lions’ tour of New Zealand.
It was a show of family solidarity by the Norfolk-born brothers, who have enjoyed success at club and international level together.
Leicester’s head coach Matt O’Connor, quoted in the Daily Telegraph, said: “He wants to be in, he wants to be playing, he wants to be in the environment because it has been a real saviour for him over the past two or three years. He wants to make sure that he keeps fulfilling those obligations because it has been so positive for him.
“He has used it as an escape in certain regards over the course of Tiff’s illness. He understands that he needs to continue that. The captaincy is another part of that but we have been very flexible around it. It’s entirely on his terms. He’s tried to be in when he can but not to the point where he is compromised anywhere else, but he will be playing on Saturday.
“Given the rock he has been over the season with the coaching situation, he has been a phenomenal strength for the playing group and he wants to continue that through.”
O’Connor backed Ben’s decision to withdraw from Lions duties, saying: “He had the full support of the club, and everyone who is significant to him reinforced that decision, so it was a pretty easy one for him.
“His commitment to the club and to his brother and his family are probably a lot more significant than the Lions, to be honest.”
While it has been a difficult season for Leicester on the pitch, they have, again, qualified for the play-offs and front-row team-mate Dan Cole says that is largely down to Youngs’ captaincy.
“His leadership has been exceptional,” Cole said. “Obviously recent news has occurred and that has been going on all season. How he has been able to focus purely on rugby and leading the side is incredible.
“He comes to work, works as hard as he can and people follow him. With other captains, we wouldn’t be here if that was the case.”