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Youngs relishing clash

BAGSHOT, February 2- Australia scourge Ben Youngs cannot wait to confront Mike Phillips during England's Six Nations opener away to Wales on Friday.

Phillips, the British and Irish Lions scrum-half in South Africa in 2009, is built like a flanker and often acts as an auxiliary back-row forward.

Youngs, by contrast, is more in the mould of the classic nippy No 9.

And the 21-year-old’s speed off the mark was seen to superb effect when, in only his third Test, he stunned Australia with a superb solo try during England’s 21-20 victory in Sydney in June.

The Wallabies were also on the receiving end of another piece of adventurous play from Youngs, the son of former England scrum-half Nick, when the Leicester No 9 launched the counter-attack that led to wing Chris Ashton’s stunning length of the field try at Twickenham in November.

Youngs, who will be winning his eighth cap at the Millennium Stadium, is readying himself for a gruelling night’s work.

"Mike Phillips is a big guy," Youngs told reporters at England’s training base here on Tuesday.

"There will be a bit of banter around the scrum and he will probably try and push me about a bit but that is to be expected.

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"As long as you know what is coming your way you can prepare to be in the right place and not be put off by it.

"I expect him to be physical with me and maybe a bit of sledging but it is part of the game. There is nothing wrong with a bit of niggle now and then."

Youngs added: "I have seen a lot of him. I thought he was outstanding on the Lions tour. He makes his tackles and he is strong and he will pick and go like a back rower.

"His passing is alright but there are areas of his game I will be targeting. I have the utmost respect for him. I will relish that challenge of playing against him."

It was not that long ago that Youngs was still struggling to establish himself as Leicester’s No 9 and he said: "Everything has happened very quickly. I don’t really want to stop and reflect on what I have done in case I was happy with where I got to and my standards in training would drop off.

"I have to keep setting myself new goals. You will only stay in place through hard work."

England have not won in Cardiff since 2003 when a team captained by current team manager Martin Johnson went onto a Six Nations grand slam and a World Cup triumph in the southern hemisphere.

With this year’s World Cup in New Zealand, Youngs believes its about time history started to repeat itself.

"People are more aware what we are capable of now," Youngs said.

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"They have seen that we can beat Australia by a huge amount, Samoa are not an easy side and we came closer to New Zealand than any other (European) team.

"We are in a good place and we can kick on. It is about time. We want to get some trophies."

Both Johnson and Wales coach Warren Gatland were due to name their starting sides on Wednesday.



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