‘This is a great milestone, but certainly not one that will make me take my foot off the gas’ - Norfolk star Ben Youngs
- Credit: AP
Norfolk’s Ben Youngs was presented with a gold cap and watch by his England team-mates after celebrating his entry into the ranks of Test centurions by scoring two tries in a crucial 34-5 bonus-point victory over Italy.
Shortly after becoming only the second Englishman to win 100 caps after Jason Leonard, Youngs was honoured by his team-mates in the changing room at the Stadio Olimpico.
The Leicester scrum-half scored in each half, but it was his brilliantly-taken second 56 seconds after half-time that propelled Eddie Jones’ men out of sight, ensuring they had done everything possible to lift the 2020 Six Nations title.
“I was very kindly given a gold cap, like a trophy, and an amazing watch from all the boys which was engraved. It was an incredible touch and something that I wasn’t expecting,” said Youngs, from Aylsham.
“It was a great presentation from Eddie and Owen (Farrell) and I will now reflect and enjoy this moment.”
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Youngs made his debut in 2010 and has been England’s first choice scrum-half for virtually the entire decade since. Still only 31-year-old, Jones has set him the challenge of reaching 150 caps.
“I’m up for it, absolutely. All the hard work allows me to get the privilege to run out on a Saturday and that will never change - I will be back out on Monday on the grind,” Youngs said.
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“This is a great milestone, but certainly not one that will make me take my foot off the gas. I love being part of this group, it’s exciting times.
“For me this week has been about focusing on my performance and fulfilling my role. I wanted to limit the distractions.
“I have had some unbelievable messages from people getting in touch - from ex-players, team-mates and guys I have played against from other countries for years.
“That means the most to me as they know how hard it is to achieve it and getting that recognition from those boys means a lot.”
Jones paid tribute to Youngs after England shook off their rustiness induced by a seven-month break for coronavirus to power out of sight in the second half, extending their winning sequence over Italy to an unblemished 27 wins.
“It’s always nice for a player to play well in their 100th game,” Jones said.
“He scored a couple of nice tries, one a beautiful traditional half-back try backing up the centre of the field and another off some good go-forward ball.
“He’ll feel good about this game, the whole team feels good about him getting to 100 caps and now we want him to go on and get to 150. It’s a massive achievement and we’re so proud of him.”
George, Tom Curry and Henry Slade also crossed in a comprehensive win before the start of the Autumn Nations Cup, which will be played out while the UK is in lockdown.
“We certainly tried to play with a lot of passion and intent. I hope the fans at home enjoyed the game and feel a little bit better about themselves because we’re going to go through another tough period, aren’t we?” Jones said.
“We have to make sure we do everything we can to help society.”