Youngs eyes ideal prep

Ben Youngs believes Saturday's Aviva Premiership Final could provide the ideal preparation for his first British & Irish Lions adventure. [more]

Youngs eyes ideal prep

Ben Youngs believes Saturday’s Aviva Premiership Final could provide the ideal preparation for his first British & Irish Lions adventure.

Youngs is one of seven Lions involved in England’s showpiece event at Twickenham as his Leicester Tigers side take on East Midlands rivals Northampton Saints.

Youngs will be joined by his brother Tom, Dan Cole, Tom Croft, Geoff Parling and Manu Tuilagi in the Leicester line up, with Dylan Hartley packing down for the Saints.

The match comes just two days before The Lions head to Hong Kong on Monday, May 27 and has already affected pre-tour preparations as all seven players missed last week’s Lions gathering in Wales and will be unavailable for this week’s training camp in Ireland.

But rather than worry about what he might have missed, Youngs prefers to focus on the benefits of playing in such a hugely-competitive fixture on the eve of what will be an even more intense challenge Down Under.  

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“It could be a great springboard for us to carry on playing,” said Youngs of Leicester’s ninth Premiership final in a row.

“The final’s obviously going to be a high-pressure game and it will be close to a Test match.

“If you can get some momentum and play well in that then hopefully that will continue on to the tour.

“If you went three weeks without a game you might be having to play catch up a little bit so we’re fortunate to have another game and to, hopefully, be able to kick on.

“We’ve still got a job to do with Leicester. We’ve got to make sure we don’t get distracted because that’s a great opportunity.

 “You’ve got a squad of 30 or so at Leicester whose goal is to win the Aviva Premiership trophy, and our goals are the same. Obviously we’re lucky enough to have a tour at the end of it but that has to be our number one priority right now.”

Youngs will be battling it out with Mike Phillips and Conor Murray for the No9 shirt in Australia, with the Welshman the early favourite to start the Test series against the Qantas Wallabies on June 22.

Phillips was outstanding when he started all three internationals on The Lions’ last tour of South Africa four years ago and had the upper hand against Youngs when Wales beat England in Cardiff in mid-March.

Youngs is convinced that all three players will be handed an equal chance to feature on the biggest stage of all, though, and he insists he is simply focusing on fulfilling his own potential and on buying into the values of The Lions rather than concentrating on what others will bring to the party. 

“You just look forward to that challenge. Everyone will get given an opportunity at some stage and the only thing you can do is make sure you perform as well as you can and put your hand up,” added Youngs.

“Mike’s a great player and he was fantastic on that tour. But Conor Murray and I will be battling it out with him.

“The only thing I concentrate on is game by game. You set your goals for each game and if you come through and do what you can do, hopefully you’ll be in the mix. You’ve got mid-week games as well as Saturday games so it’s just about taking the opportunity.

“I think both Mike and Conor have a different approach to the game than I do. If the grounds are hard it will be a quick game, which I like. If the game gets loose, that’s probably when I can express myself, when there are holes and the defence are tired. But it depends which way the coaches want to play.

“It’s just important to get on board with all the systems. The main thing is that every single player is buying into wanting to win a series down there.”

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