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Youngs in sevens heaven

PUBLISHED: 10:22 27 March 2008 | UPDATED: 08:54 13 July 2010

Ben Youngs (left) in celebratory mood for Leicester Tigers.

Ben Youngs (left) in celebratory mood for Leicester Tigers.

World Cup winner Josh Lewsey believes the forthcoming Hong Kong and Adelaide Sevens gives an England squad including north Norfolk rugby prospect Ben Youngs the perfect chance to prove themselves the real deal.

World Cup winner Josh Lewsey believes the forthcoming Hong Kong and Adelaide Sevens gives an England squad including north Norfolk rugby prospect Ben Youngs the perfect chance to prove themselves the real deal.

The 18-year-old scrum-half is one of five England U20 Grand Slam winners selected by coach Ben Ryan for the fifth and sixth legs of the IRB Sevens World Series which get under way at the Hong Kong Stadium on Friday.

The highly-rated Leicester Tiger - a former Gresham's School pupil - will be looking to impress in the shortened-version of the game as he bids to build on the 13 Tigers first-team appearances he has collected to date.

And Lewsey believes representing England in the sevens arena will play a major part in developing the teenager's obvious talents.

“Sevens is a great finishing school and if you can prove you can perform in the sevens tour, and then you will have the ability to play in 15-man rugby as well,” he said.

“The 15-man game is ultimately where you get judged. The challenge is to get regular games for your club but sevens gives you the chance to express yourself and is a big help in developing you as a player.

“In terms of honing your game and your all round skills there are few better mediums than playing sevens.

“It doesn't matter as much if you win or lose so more emphasis is on the development of youngsters. People can express themselves.”

Lewsey, who triumphed at the 2002 Hong Kong event and competed at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester, is convinced sevens can be the perfect stepping-stone to 15-man glory.

World Cup winners Matt Dawson and Lawrence Dallaglio have used the shortened game to further their careers - and Lewsey is backing Youngs and Co to follow suit.

England have not enjoyed the most successful of sevens' seasons - currently languishing down in seventh place in the overall standings behind the likes of Argentina and Kenya.

They will be without Harlequins scrum half Danny Care, who is now a regular at the Stoop and was called up by Brian Ashton during the Six Nations and Bath winger Matt Banahan, who will play in the European Challenge Cup quarter-final, in Hong Kong.

But Ryan remains upbeat his new-look squad, which includes five members of England's U20 Grand Slam winners, can reign supreme.

“Hong Kong is an awesome event and I know I have a side that will give their all and crawl off the pitch if needed,” he said.

“This squad is full of exceptional talents and although we go into the tournament as huge underdogs - everybody is determined to do the white shirt and red rose proud.”

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