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Youngs leads the way as one of England’s experienced heads as South Africa series starts

Ben Youngs will be the most-capped player in England's squad for the first Test against South Africa. Picture: Adam Davy/PA

Ben Youngs will be the most-capped player in England's squad for the first Test against South Africa. Picture: Adam Davy/PA

PA Wire/PA Images

Ben Youngs will be the most experienced player in the England squad when the first Test kicks off in South Africa tomorrow.

The 28-year-old former Holt and North Walsham junior is set to win his 75th cap after being named in Eddie Jones’ line-up for the series opener in Johannesburg.

The scrum-half is one of just five players with more than 50 caps to their name in the match-day squad, as an injury-hit England look to bounce back from their Six Nations implosion.

Youngs injured knee ligaments during the opening win in Italy but missed the rest of the tournament as the reigning champions hit the buffers and saw their fantastic start to life under Jones – winning 25 of 26 games – end with three defeats to slump to fifth in the Six Nations standings.

Norfolk’s star rugby attraction recovered in time to feature in the latter stages of the Premiership season with Leicester though and is in good spirits for the series opener.

“The spirit has been fantastic, it’s probably the best vibe I’ve known it to be,” said Youngs. “Everyone is very excited about the opportunity of playing out here at Ellis Park and the history that it has.

“Everyone has come in straight away and contributed, so you’ve got a lot of young guys and boys that are new to this environment, but they’re coming in and trying to add to the group which is great.”

A 75th cap will draw Youngs level with World Cup winners Mike Catt and Mike Tindall in joint 11th in England’s all-time appearances list and with Danny Care injured the Tigers stalwart is the senior nine ahead of uncapped Ben Spencer of Saracens.

“There’s a lot of experienced boys who have toured a fair few times now so they know the importance of gelling really quickly,” he continued, speaking to EnglandRugby.com.

“We’ve also got a lot of guys who have played together with England for a long time so that combination between the young, energetic lads within the senior lads with knowing how things work.

“You combine that and the mood has been really good.

“We want to make sure we come here and we’re successful.

“I was here in 2012 so we want to make sure we do better than we did then and the opportunity for us is to win the Test series.”

TEAMS

South Africa: Willie le Roux; Sibusiso Nkosi, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Aphiwe Dyantyi; Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk; Duane Vermeulen, Jean-Luc du Preez, Siya Kolisi (capt); Franco Mostert, RG Snyman; Trevor Nyakane/Wilco Louw, Bongi Mbonambi, Tendai Mtawarira

Replacements: Akker van der Merwe, Steven Kitshoff, Wilco Louw/Thomas du Toit, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Ivan van Zyl, Elton Jantjies, Warrick Gelant

England: Elliot Daly; Jonny May, Henry Slade, Owen Farrell, Mike Brown; George Ford, Ben Youngs; Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, Nick Isiekwe, Chris Robshaw, Tom Curry, Billy Vunipola

Replacements: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Joe Marler, Harry Williams, Brad Shields, Nathan Hughes, Ben Spencer, Piers Francis, Denny Solomona

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