Ben Youngs is set to equal Jonny Wilkinson’s record as England’s most capped back when he is named in the squad for Thursday’s Rugby World Cup clash with the United States in Kobe.
Eddie Jones will announce his starting XV for the second Pool C encounter on Tuesday evening (JST) with Youngs certain to be involved as one of only two scrum-halves taken to Japan.
Only Jason Leonard and Dylan Hartley, who have made 114 and 97 Test appearances respectively, are more decorated.
“I remember making my first start for England and Jonny was involved and playing in Australia,” Youngs said.
“Jonny’s an icon of the game so to get this accolade is pretty cool.
“It’s gone quick and I remember when I first started some of the players like Simon Shaw told me to enjoy it because it would go so fast.
How do England negotiate a tricky four-day turnaround between games this week?
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) September 23, 2019
“It has been an enjoyable ride. When you first start out it goes fast and you’re in it and not really sure what’s going on.
“And then you get older and understand what gets you there, how you do it and how you sustain it.
“Getting there is almost the easy bit, the hard bit is sustaining it and staying there and being consistent. It is a really exciting bit of my career.”
Lewis Ludlam’s fairytale four months will continue with his promotion from the bench role he performed against Tonga and into the starting back row for the US showdown.
It will be the 23-year-old’s fourth cap and comes after he was picked for a senior England squad for the first time in late May.
“To play in a World Cup is what you work for. To get a chance to start is incredible,” the Northampton flanker said.
England attempted to put a positive spin on their disjointed outing against Tonga, taking refuge in the bonus point and absence of injury, but there were a few dissenting voices in the ranks.
Scrum coach Neal Hatley described the performance as “scratchy” while hooker Jamie George admitted “there’s frustration in the way we made a lot of mistakes”.
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