Ellis Genge admires the infectious enthusiasm of Ben Youngs as his Leicester team-mate is on the verge of becoming England’s most capped player.
Youngsters are set to be reinstated in the starting XV for Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations match against Wales after falling to the bench for Italy’s five-try rout in the second round.
A special milestone awaits the 32-year-old at Twickenham where he will surpass Jason Leonard’s 114 appearances to set a new record for England in the men’s game.
Beyond the achievement itself, Genge applauds the fact that Youngs reached the landmark by following his path – with a smile.
“Ben is a larger than life character, full of energy and demands. He is so much fun to be around,” Genge said.
“You’d think he’d be sick of it, but he comes in every day with a smile, no matter what you’re doing, hugs you and always pushes you to do your best.
“I don’t think anyone thinks he’s done after this weekend. What explains its longevity? First scrum half, he does not make too much contact. I can’t see myself doing that long. It probably helps.
“I’m not going to tell you he’s the most diligent guy, does all this secret stuff to make his career long and prosperous. This is not the case and he would tell you so himself.
Coming tomorrow: a powerful and insightful episode with @benyoungs09 🎧
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) February 21, 2022
“Ben never took himself too seriously. He put his head down, did what he had to do, and then went above and beyond to achieve his goals by being himself.
“It’s a good plan for anyone else. You don’t have to be someone else’s cardboard cutout. Do your own thing and hopefully it takes you all the way.
Youngs has played despite personal trauma as his older brother Tom, a predecessor of Genge as Leicester captain, takes indefinite leave from playing to care for his wife Tiffany as she battles a serious illness after nursing. recovering from Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
In 2017 Ben pulled out of the Lions squad heading to New Zealand to support his family and four years later he pulled out of the run for South Africa, again. once to help Tom and Tiffany.
“I have so much respect for the guy. I cannot describe it. The things he sacrificed to achieve what he achieved in rugby, which most people would back down from,” Genge said.
“Like staying home for the Lions tours to support his brother and his family. He’s a legend. I love him to bits, he’s a great guy.
“When I was captain of Leicester, the first thing he said was, ‘I can’t believe our dad is leading the way’. He calls me ‘our dad’. Like I said, he doesn’t take himself too seriously.
“We have this amazing relationship, me and Ben. We respect each other a lot and he didn’t say too much, just ‘go out and do your thing mate and we’ll follow you’. That’s all I needed to say. ‘to hear.
The Wales clash is also important for Genge after he faced online abuse, including death threats, after the same game in Cardiff a year ago.
I don’t know why I’m not clapping in this tunnel that needs to be deep in thought, highest respect for Welsh people 🌼 as for keyboard warriors sending death threats etc. pic.twitter.com/qX49P570V2
— Gengey (@EllisGenge) February 28, 2021
A video has emerged of the cowardly prop standing motionless instead of applauding Wales in the tunnel after their 40-24 win at the Principality Stadium, leading to a wave of fierce criticism which prompted the Rugby Football Union to publish a statement to defend him and the team. .
“You have grief after every game. If I sat here and picked all the messages you got from people, I would be here everyday. You should take it with a pinch of salt,” Genge said.
“I’m sure these people have tough things to do at home because they’re obviously pretty sad and have nothing to do but give Knowle Wester a stick. Of course on them.