Youngs' weighting game: Beef with prop inspired England's number two to bulk up from centre to hooker

 

It started with a centre looking to fight a prop. Tom Youngs, the incumbent Leicester and England hooker, has the most interesting of rugby journeys into his first Six Nations.

Son and brother to international scrumhalves Nick and Ben, the 26-year-old started his professional career at centre, selected for England under-20s and signed by Leicester.

In 2008, the current Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer, then coaching the Tigers, suggested a switch to the frontrow after a game against Saracens when Youngs became embroiled with a prop.

Richard Cockerill’s presence at the club undoubtedly helped. “Tom was a really abrasive centre, steeped in the club’s history,” said Leicester captain Geordan Murphy. “His father, Nick, is a farmer from Norfolk, and that is Tom’s way as well. Nothing like the typical younger brother, who is interested in cars and enjoying himself, while Tom is interested in tractors and farming. We should have seen the hooker in him long ago, I suppose.

“Heyneke saw it, spoke to his dad and he was given a three- year contract, put out on loan to Nottingham and given a serious diet of weights to put another seven or eight kilos on him. We started seeing the benefit of it last season.”

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