Youngs aiming to take Flood partnership to next level

Leicester scrum-half wants to recreate club dynamic against New Zealand

ENGLAND scrum-half Ben Youngs is hoping manager Martin Johnson puts his faith in an all-Leicester half-back combination to get the autumn campaign off to a perfect start against New Zealand.

Youngs and Tigers fly-half Toby Flood have forged a potent partnership at club level, striking up an understanding that helped take the Premiership trophy back to Welford Road last season.

Both are strong candidates to fill the same roles for their country on Saturday, when the mighty All Blacks become the first of four southern hemisphere opponents to challenge England at Twickenham this month.

And Youngs admits he would love the chance to prove to Johnson that he and his regular colleague can form an equally effective double act in the Test arena.

“It would be great to play with Flood in an England shirt,” Youngs told City A.M. “It’s only because I know him so well – there are some fantastic fly-halves in the squad. It helps if I play with Floody because I know him inside out. At the same time we’ll all have had two weeks to get to know each other.”

Flood’s chances of staking another claim for long-term possession of the No10 shirt increased last week when Jonny Wilkinson was ruled out by injury. Youngs, meanwhile, looks a strong bet to be picked at No9, having announced his arrival on the international stage with a superb solo try in the June victory over Australia in Sydney. Not bad for a 21-year-old who started last season hoping to nail down his Leicester place.

“It’s been an extremely exciting 12 months,” Youngs added. “I really enjoyed last season and getting to play for my country was something that will stay with me forever. I hope I can carry on my Leicester form at Test level. My club performances have been going well and if I get the opportunity then I will do all I can.”

That summer victory over Australia has given England fresh belief as they prepare to face an All Black side who were on a 15-match winning streak until a last-gasp defeat to the Wallabies at the weekend. “We’re trying to build on what we did in the summer,” said Youngs. “The Australia win helped massively. We’ve set down a marker now and we don’t want to go below that. We’re keen now to test ourselves and see where we’re at. There’s no fear about facing New Zealand, more excitement.”

Tickets for the Investec International match between England and Samoa on Saturday 20 November at Twickenham are available from £25 for adults and £10 for under 16s via www.rfu.com/tickets or by calling 0844 8472492.