Rugby Union

Ben Youngs: England can't wait for Rugby World Cup opener

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Ben Youngs insists England are "ready to go" as they prepare to expect the unexpected in Friday's World Cup opener against Fiji at Twickenham.

Sevens-specialists Fiji are positioned ninth in the global rankings and although they have been drawn in a daunting Pool A that also features Wales and Australia, they are capable of causing one of the tournament's greatest upsets.

Youngs insists England, who will be wearing their red change kit, are planning to explode out of the blocks as months of waiting including a gruelling 10-week training camp comes to an end.


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"We're ready to go. It's soon now and we've been champing at the bit for a while," the Leicester scrum-half said.

"From the moment we got back from the New Zealand tour last summer we knew this was coming. It's been a long wait for a lot of guys, so we can't wait to get out there on Friday.

"There's a real edge and intensity about us; not nervousness, just excitement. If we continue to build emotionally for the next couple of days I've no doubt we'll come out of the blocks on Friday absolutely flying.

"We have a young group of guys who have no fear. They're too young to have any fear.

You can really sense the buzz around the country. Everyone knows it's coming now."

The danger posed by Fiji is underlined by the presence in their starting XV of the highest try-scorers in the world's three main club competitions for the 2013-14 season - centre Niki Goneva for Leicester in the Aviva Premiership, wing Nemani Nadolo for Super 15 team the Crusaders and full-back Metuisela Talebula for Bordeaux of the Top 14.

"Fiji are a little bit of the unknown because they can do the unexpected. There's only so much prep we can do on them because they can do something out of nothing, that's the type of player they have," Youngs said.

Two seasons together at Leicester has given Youngs an insight into the complete attacking game of Goneva, whose arsenal is full of the trademark Fijian weapons - pace, cute running angles, tackle-busting power and a defence-splitting sidestep.

"Niki is one of the best players I've played with simply because he can either run over you or step you," Youngs said.

"He makes you do the splits as you try to tackle him simple because you don't know what way he will go.

"He's got ability, great hands and is a physical guy. He can be very physical, but also subtle with electric pace. He has the balance of both types of game and is one of many for Fiji."

Youngs will be making his 50th international appearance on Friday, although it will be captain Chris Robshaw who leads England on to the pitch once the opening ceremony has been completed.

"It's wonderful to wear the jersey any time but to make it 50 on the opening game makes it extra special," Youngs said.

"Once my career is over I'll look back on it to understand what it meant. It's a nice little milestone but it will be over in a flash.

"What I'm most proud about is that I've done it in an environment where there are a lot of scrum-halves who could play week in, week out."

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