Ben Youngs wants England World Cup swansong as he predicts fierce scrum-half succession battle

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Record-breaker: Ben Youngs became England’s most-capped men’s player of all time during the Six Nations  (Getty Images)
Record-breaker: Ben Youngs became England’s most-capped men’s player of all time during the Six Nations (Getty Images)

England’s most-capped men’s player Ben Youngs is targeting next year’s World Cup as an international swansong with a number of young scrum-halves biting at his heels.

Youngs is 32 and overtook Jason Leonard’s record of 114 caps in this year’s Six Nations. Appearing on Lawrence Dallaglio’s Evening Standard Rugby Podcast, he said that while he intends to play on at club level beyond next year’s World Cup in France, he will hang up his England jersey then.

He lost his starting berth to Bristol’s Harry Randall during the Six Nations and also has the likes of Sale’s Raffi Quirke, Northampton’s Alex Mitchell and Leicester team-mate Jack van Poortvliet competing for the No9 jersey in what he described as a “respectful” battle.

Youngs predicts that once he retires, those players will have a fierce tussle, just as he once did with the likes of Danny Care and Richard Wigglesworth.

“Without doubt Kev [Sinfield] and Steve [Borthwick, the Leicester coaches] have given me enthusiasm, energy, that sense of where we are going,” he said. "I want to help the young guys and bring Leicester success because I want to help the club because I love it so much.

“My goal of course is to make the next World Cup. Beyond that, it’s hard to see where I fit in internationally. Certainly club-wise, domestically, I definitely have more in me.

“Those guys. The way they play, they are all busy, exciting nines. It will be those three battling it out for years, very similar to me, Danny, Wiggy, Lee Dickson. The next lot come through and when you have that much quality it is only a good thing.”

Youngs also opened up on his experience with dyslexia as a child, and how it had hardened him for a career in the game.

“A lot of people can relate to it,” he said. “It’s just how I am. Rugby was my escape. As a youngster I’d be a bit shy, timid, embarrassed in the classroom because I didn’t want to put myself out there. But as soon as I got on the sports pitch I loved it and I could be me, and rugby captivated me.

“It’s helped me be who I am now, and I think it’s important that guys share it, because it’s nothing to be afraid of.”

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