TOKYO, Japan, Oct 23 – Scrum-half Ben Youngs is hoping to add to his family’s impressive record against the All Blacks when England take on New Zealand in a World Cup semi-final on Saturday.
England have won just seven of their 41 Tests against the reigning world champions but two of those victories have featured various generations of the Youngs family.
Back in 1983 Nick Youngs, Ben’s father and also a scrum-half, played in England’s 15-9 victory at Twickenham.
And seven years ago at Twickenham, both Ben and his brother Tom, a prop, starred in a 38-21 success — England’s last win over the All Blacks.
Asked if beating New Zealand was in his DNA, Youngs told reporters at England’s hotel on Wednesday: “The old man did it. Maybe, I don’t know, we will see.”
However, the 2012 win remains the only victory the 30-year-old Youngs has enjoyed in eight Tests against New Zealand.
And the memory of a 16-15 loss the last time England played them, at Twickenham in November, is still fresh in the mind of the Leicester number nine.
On that occasion, the hosts let slip an early 15-0 lead while flanker Sam Underhill had a try controversially disallowed for a marginal offside involving Courtney Lawes.
“I’ve had a fair few opportunities against New Zealand. I suppose the most relevant one is the most recent one in the autumn,” said Youngs, a veteran of 93 Tests for England.
“I just felt probably we were in control a little bit in those first 25, 30 minutes but they kept coming back,” added Youngs.
New Zealand showed in their impressive 46-14 quarter-final win against Ireland the importance of remaining “error-free,” said Youngs.
“A couple of Ireland mistakes and they are down at the other end scoring off the back of it. The mental bit comes from staying engaged and never clocking off,” he said.
“For me they (New Zealand) are the most dangerous team in the world at punishing you,” added Youngs, also stressing the physicality of the defending world champions.
– ‘Electric atmosphere’ –
Meanwhile Youngs said he would be relishing his latest contest with the New Zealand scrum-half, whether that be Aaron Smith or TJ Perenara, stressing that England would have to be alert to the threat they bring around the rucks.
Saturday’s semi-final will be only the second time England have played the All Blacks since Eddie Jones took over as boss following the 2015 World Cup.
“For me the best atmospheres I’ve ever played in is always when New Zealand come to town at Twickenham and I suspect it’ll be no different,” said Youngs.
“You add the fact that it’s a semi-final and we are anticipating an electric atmosphere on Saturday.”
New Zealand, bidding for a third successive World Cup title and fourth in total, head into this match as favourites.
But Youngs said England would take belief from their 40-16 hammering of Australia in their quarter-final.
“Come Saturday we will be in a position where we have complete confidence in how we want to play.”