Ben Youngs: ‘We know what’s coming’
There are tantalising clashes all over the Champions Cup quarter-finals this weekend, but Leicester’s match-up with Leinster is surely the pick of the bunch.
The Premiership leaders against Ireland’s flagship team and a team of European stalwarts. Arguably flagship teams – historically – of both their countries. Oodles of international class all over the show. It’s going to be that old cliche: a club match of Test match intensity, where experience will count for significantly more.
The Tigers count England’s most-capped player in their ranks, who will be organising things around the base of their gnarly pack and scrum. And Ben Youngs suffers no illusions as to what is coming the Tigers’ way.
“We acknowledge what’s coming and recognise the effort it’s going to take, but it also allows us to be really excited about this week,” he said.
“It’s going to have that Test match feel to it, that’s what it’s going to take. I think anything short of that build-up is not going to be enough.”
This has been a full renaissance season for Leicester. Having avoided relegation two years ago by dint of Saracens’ transgressions, Steve Borthwick has overseen a complete cultural and structural overhaul of one of England’s most storied clubs.
They lead the Premiership table, with a home semi-final now all but certain, while their European campaign has recalled halcyon days of nearly 20 years ago when the Tigers were perennial European contenders.
Youngs has seen both good days and bad days at Leicester, convinced that now is the start of an era of sustained success at the club.
“It’s weeks like this that we want to be part of as Leicester moving forward and it’s great we’re now able to start doing,” he enthused.
“We’re at home, we love playing there, we’re expecting a great crowd and we’re playing against a team who have been formidable in Europe for years.
“Straight away you know you have got to have a week where you peak. We’ll have to do that to get the victory and will need to be at our absolute best.”
“Leinster have a star-studded team with guys who have won Europe before and international experience coming off the back of their autumn and Six Nations,” Youngs said.
“They have a huge amount of experience and are a very settled team who know each other very, very well.
“It will be a great challenge for us and we get to see where we’re at against the best team, certainly in Europe, if not the best club team in the world.
“It’s everything we want. We’ve come on loads this season but let’s really see how far we have come – Saturday is an opportunity to do that.”
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