England have to be on guard against clever Wallabies: Youngs

Rugby World Cup
by Iain Payten

England halfback Ben Youngs has talked up the cleverness of the Wallabies' attack, but pointed to the flipside of the Aussie attacking mindset by saying it also delivers "chances".

Youngs rates clashes against the Wallabies among his fondest memories in a nine-year international career, and it's probably no surprise given he holds the record for most Test matches against Australia by an Englishman, with 15.

Youngs' red-rose tinted glasses are also no doubt influenced by the fact the 30-year-old has enjoyed 11 wins in that stretch of games, and more pertinently to Saturday's quarter-final in Oita, he has started in all six of the English victories over the Wallabies since 2016.

Despite the winning run, however, Youngs said Australia always pose a distinctive threat, with a willingness to run the ball a lot and try different things in attack.

"Some of my Australia fixtures are some of my favourite games, without a doubt. Let’s hope that it’s the same again," Young said in Miyazaki, where England holed up during Typhoon Hagibis.

"Australia are very clever in how they attack. They are smart. You think they are going to do one thing and they do something different. I have always found them challenging in that aspect.

"I like the way they play with their attacking mind-set – and off the back of that you always get chances when they do play. They always have a few things up their sleeve that you don't expect so it is important that we prepare for that."

Youngs started against Australia in their last loss, a humbling defeat at the 2015 Rugby World Cup that saw them fail to make the playoffs.

Asked if that match would serve as motivation for England this week, the Leicester Tiger said: "It is each to their own".

"It depends what you want to use to get you motivated. Whatever you want to take out of that and springboard you, I don’t know. I won’t be, but some lads might, to try and find that added two per cent inside them," Young said, before re-interating the Aussie attacking threat.

"That was one where they came up with a play we had never seen before; Foley comes around and plays back inside. You think they are going to do one thing and they do something completely different. That is why I think we have to be so “on it” against Australia."

As the Wallabies have done, Youngs dismissed the six straight victories as a factor in the quarter despite the fact it will undoubtedly be a source of confidence.

"The psyche is, if the shoe is on the other foot (from Australia's perspective, from my experience of playing against teams when you’ve always come up short, you almost get even more motivated to chuck everything at them and go for it," Youngs said.

"You’ll think, “The pressure is on them” and that sort of stuff. I imagine that’s what they’ll be saying internally."

England had a game cancelled against France but Youngs said it won't affect their momentum, nor physical readiness, given they train at match intensity anyway.

With Matt Toomua a good friend from his Tigers stint, Youngs said he enjoys the contest - and banter - with Australians, but said he'd leave the mind games to the two coaches, Eddie Jones and Michael Cheika.

Cheika said England "have to win" after Jones said the "typhoon Gods were looking after us" with a weekend off.

"I think him and Eddie will be quite entertaining throughout the week so I will leave it to those two! From our point of view, yes we are here and we have an opportunity to prep. We will do that," he said.

"We can’t control what Australia are doing and they can’t control what we do. We just have to make sure we do everything we can to put us in a great position next week. I will leave the two coaches at it and watch from afar!

"It is always big whenever you play an Australian fixture. It always has been. There is a great rivalry, not just in rugby but throughout with the Ashes. Whenever you play the Aussies, you want to do it, especially if you are English and vice-versa. It bodes well for a great game."

 ‘It is just about that 80 minutes - we will make sure we are aware of it. You have the belief and know that certain areas of the game are strong against them. You think about how they might potentially play, but as a whole, it gives you belief but we won't read too much into it.’

‘No, the way that we train is with a huge amount of intensity, so I don't believe it will be a factor. If anything we should be able to maximise it all with the fact that we haven't had the picture (?) and we have had more of a run-up into it.’