Rugby World Cup 2011
Youngs buoyed by dream comeback
September 13, 2011
Ben Youngs was England's hero in Saturday's Pool B victory over Argentina in Dunedin © Getty Images
Fit-again England scrum-half Ben Youngs has admitted that he could not have hoped for a better return to the international arena after coming off the bench to score the game-winning try in England's World Cup opener against Argentina on Saturday.
Youngs had been a doubt for the tournament after being forced to undergo keyhole surgery in June after injuring his knee during a wrestling match with team-mate Toby Flood. However, despite missing all of his country's World Cup warm-up games, Youngs was included in the travelling party and vindicated his selection in fine style by darting over for the 66th-minute try which saw England record a 13-9 victory over the Pumas in Dunedin. For Youngs, it was the perfect way in which to confirm his return to full fitness.
"When I first did it (the injury), it was a little bit worrying,'' said Youngs. "Luckily I have great guys who were there. As soon as I knew the target was to get fit to be here at the World Cup I knew I was good to go.
"I went through some pretty gruelling sessions but it's all for a good cause. I've been fit and ready to go for a couple of weeks now. I was chomping at the bit at the weekend and happy to get on. It was just nice to get back in the swing of things.
"I feel as sharp as ever. I feel really good. If I get to wrestle Floody again I'll certainly look to dominate him. I'll grab his ears and chuck him out the ring.
"The mental side is probably the hard part, being tackled for the first time after surgery, but as soon as you get that out the way you know you're good to go.''
The successful comeback in Dunedin was particularly satisfying for Youngs given that on his last appearance for his country, against Ireland in the final game of this year's Six Nations, he had underperformed, his display in Dublin coming in for strong criticism as England saw their hopes of a Grand Slam ended by a resounding 24-8 defeat.
"I've had my highs and I've had my lows but it makes you a better player and a stronger player,'' he said. "Obviously Ireland was a poor performance by me and a frustrating time.
"At the same time I learned so much from it. At the time you are absolutely devastated but you look back now and think it put me in a real good stead and made me address things that you thought you were all right at but need to work on a lot.
"I'll never be where I want to be as a player. Luckily in training I get to test myself against other very good scrum halves so your standards can never drop.''
After his try-scoring heroics against the Pumas, Youngs is now hoping to start Sunday's clash with Georgia, a game in which England will be just as sorely tested as they were last weekend.
"They've got some very good players and very big men and they'll look to dominate us physically,'' the No.9 said. "After watching the Argentina game they'll probably go hard at our breakdown. We've addressed that and been harsh on ourselves.''
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