Youngs aiming for more history after completing World Cup treble

Ben Youngs came agonisingly short of a World Cup try on Sunda

Ben Youngs made history on Sunday night – becoming the first English scrum-half ever to appear at three separate Rugby World Cups.

There is history of another type on Youngs’ mind however – even if the Red Rose’ opening win over Tonga did not smack of champions elect.

After misfires at 2011 and 2015, Eddie Jones’ side are building for something big out here in Japan.

And while the primary objective will always be getting out of a tough Pool C that contains both France and Argentina, Youngs and co are not afraid to aim high.

“I didn’t know (about the England record). It’s a nice honour,” he said.

“You never want to put anything on it, and things can come back and bite you.

“But I certainly feel like this is the most cohesive team I have been a part of, it is the most well-prepared team I have been a part of.

“Everything suggest that we are in a great situation.”

But if England are to make history out here in Japan and lift only their second-ever World Cup – Youngs knows who their star man is likely to be, none other than his Leicester teammate and two-try hero on Sunday Manu Tuilagi.

“Ball in hand, when Manu is in that sort of form you just want to give him the ball and let things happen around him.

“He is a physical human that they have to try and stop and he gives us a lot of go forwards and I am pleased he is in our team.

“More than that, I am happy with the fact that only four years ago he had a tough run of it and four years on he has shown the world what he is about so I am delighted for him.

“You can see how much he is enjoying it. At some stage he genuinely though that was potentially it for him. So to see him back on the world stage, he is one of the best player in the world, he makes people want to come to games, whether you are watching on TV or in the stadium, he gets you on your feet.”

Tuilagi brings the brawn, but Youngs is the brain.

The No.9 is a key lieutenant out here in the Far East, a guaranteed starter and the man chosen to go up on stage and accept the team gift at their official welcome ceremony in Miyazaki.

They were given a bruising examination by Tonga in the Sapporo Dome, but still got the job done with a bonus point and a clean bill of health.

“There is always stuff to work on, we have another game in four days, we will be better again then an after that we will get that one done and re-assess. It comes thick and fast," added the 92-Test veteran.

“We were a bit loose at times, but a lot of those (Tongan) guys, having had a yarn with them just now afterwards, they were saying this is the game they have been looking forward to, they have been talking about it for weeks.

“I fully respect that, they were very open and honest.”

One huge tackle in particular that rocked back England’s go-to ball carrier Billy Vunipola was absolutely earth-shattering.

But patience is the key in navigating your way past the so-called Tier Two teams – and Youngs knows it better than most.

“I haven’t seen Billy be hit like that in my life and I don’t think I will ever again! That’s raw emotion on the line there.

“But we were disciplined, stayed in it and did the right things at the right times and ground them down in the end.

“We probably just cruised a bit in second gear a little bit.

“But we will take that for sure. It is a bonus point and we are up and running. You just want to get that first game under your belt.”

With USA up next in Kobe on Thursday for what will be the Eagles' tournament opener and England’s second game in four days, Jones’ men will once again need to stay vigilant.

“We are pretty aware that there is a grinding down phase against these teams. You saw that with Russia on opening night, even Namibia against Italy, I watched that," added Youngs.

“Every team has got a good 40 minutes in them no matter their tier or ranking, or what we are meant to believe.

“The competition we play in back home is pretty relentless so we are pretty used to it to short turnarounds.

“There will be a huge emphasis on recovery and probably only one session before we play so it will be a full 31-man job.

"I have played with Blaine Scully who is their captain, he’s a top top guy, highly competitive.

"I haven’t spoken to him yet but I am sure I will catch up with after. Chris Baumann as well who isn’t in their squad this year but was at Leicester.

“They are really enthusiastic guys so I am expecting an enthusiastic team that will play with a lot of energy and a bit like Tonga, will chuck the kitchen sink at us.”

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