Six Nations
'Every game a World Cup dress rehearsal'
PA Sport
February 14, 2015
Farrell: Good start was crucial

England scrum-half Ben Youngs is eager to play a central role in the latest World Cup dress rehearsal, knowing opportunities to shine are dwindling.

Twickenham will stage its first match of the year when Italy arrive for Saturday's Six Nations clash before providing the main arena for the global showpiece in September and October.

Once the Azzurri have been negotiated only six further games - four of them on home soil - will remain to complete preparations for England 2015.

That urgency is not lost on Youngs, who is once again making the scrum-half jersey his own nearly two years after the 2013 British and Irish Lions tour to Australia left him out of form and unmotivated.

England's Ben Youngs runs the line in training, Takapuna Rugby Club, Auckland, June 5, 2014
England's Ben Youngs believes he has improved his communication © Getty Images
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''Every game is a dress rehearsal for a World Cup. Italy is a dress rehearsal for a home World Cup,'' the Leicester captain said.

''We've only got seven games before our first game in the tournament against Fiji, so there are only so many dress rehearsals you can have.

''Everyone wants to put their hand up and stake a claim come the World Cup. As a team, week by week, we have got to push on from where we are at.''

Youngs was outstanding against Wales, drawing defenders around the edges and directing his pack, and he believes his own game has evolved after being given the captaincy at Leicester.

''My information is much better than it used to be in terms of what I'm saying. There used to be a lot of white noise. I have been working on what I am actually saying, giving clear information,'' he said.

England face Italy knowing points difference could ultimately decide whether they make the step from runners-up to champions for the first time under Stuart Lancaster, but Youngs understands the need to build a score.

He added: ''Patience is the most important thing for players. It was no different against Wales.

''At 10-0 down we could easily have tried chucking it around, but we knew we had a game plan that would cause them problems.

''Italy have some big game players like Sergio Parisse and Martin Castrogiovanni, so they are going to be up for it and to take some breaking down.

''We have got to be patient. The crowd becomes irrelevant in a way. If we get our bits right, the crowd will come into the game.''

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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