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Ben Youngs' motivation: 'The family. It's been a tough time'

By PA
Ben Youngs /Getty

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Ben Youngs is determined to extract everything possible from the final years of his playing career knowing that his success is a source of comfort to a family that is in the grip of adversity.

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Youngs’ older brother and Leicester team-mate Tom is in Norfolk caring for his sick wife Tiffany, who previously recovered from Hodgkin Lymphoma, a form of blood cancer.

Tigers head coach Steve Borthwick describes Youngs, England’s second most capped player, as the “hungriest as I’ve ever seen him” after devising a special conditioning programme and setting defined goals.

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Driving the 32-year-old are the painful family circumstances that have seen Tom take indefinite leave from Leicester.

When asked about his motivation, Youngs replied: “The family. It’s been a tough time and it continues to be a tough time.

“My responsibility is to try and bring some joy. That’s a pretty easy motivation for me. I want to be able to do that.

“I guess it’s challenging but my job is to perform and try and bring some smiles for 80 minutes at the weekend. That is my role within it and that is what I have got to do.

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“I’m really clear about where I want to go and how I do that. My job is to try to squeeze a bit more out of the lemon and get the juice and see where we can take it.”

Youngs has been an influential figure in Leicester’s immaculate opening to the season that comprises of nine victories in the Gallagher Premiership and a winning start to their Heineken Champions Cup campaign by winning in Bordeaux last weekend.

Connacht are the next assignment as the Tigers look to put one foot into the knockout phase and continue a remarkable transformation under Borthwick that Youngs insists is far from an overnight success.

“If you take your minds all the way back to the first lockdown, rugby restarted and we were playing on a Wednesday and a Saturday,” he said.

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“A huge number of the young lads who are thriving now were playing then. It wasn’t pretty at times. I came off the bench against Wasps on a Wednesday night and we lost by around 70 points. There are a lot of lads who played in that.

“It hasn’t all been plain sailing for them and I think sometimes people see what’s happening at the weekend now and forget the experiences they had along the way.

“A lot of the guys are better because of the experiences of lockdown and playing at that time. It’s not as if it has been an overnight thing.”

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