Ben Youngs declared England’s RBS Six Nations campaign would be rendered a “shambles” if they lose to Scotland tomorrow.
All mention of the grand slam is banned within the camp but Youngs is not afraid to hold it up as England’s ambition, knowing every player is aware what it will take to achieve.
Victories over Wales, Italy and France have carried England three steps along the way – and Youngs warned them not to waste that promising work by losing to struggling Scotland.
“Everyone is fully aware there is something special happening in the squad and if we play to our potential there is no reason we can’t win the grand slam,” said Youngs. “It is a phrase we are not allowed to say. It is the target but if you know what obstacles are in your way you should be alright.
“We are fully aware of the threat Scotland pose. We are three from three but there are such big challenges ahead. If we lose this weekend it will be a disaster.
“It would end up being a shambles of a Six Nations because we have come so far. It would be like taking five steps forward and 10 steps back.”
Youngs made his England debut off the bench as an emergency wing against Scotland a year ago in a miserable 15-15 draw at Murrayfield. Both he and the team have travelled a long way since. The highlight for Youngs was England’s victory over Australia in Sydney, in which he scored his first Test try, but he is convinced bigger and better achievements lie ahead.
“Things have happened very quickly. I have only been here for a year but I have never felt anything like the atmosphere in the squad,” said Youngs. “It is just really exciting if you look how far we have come in the last year, from playing negative kicking rugby to playing with flair and ambition.
“The performance at Murrayfield was awful and I was the only one with a smile in the dressing room. Everyone else had their head in their hands. We have come a long, long way.”
Ronan O’Gara has been hailed as “a legend of the game” as he prepares to join an exclusive club in Test match rugby.
The Ireland fly-half needs just two points to reach 1,000 at international level, adding his name to a roll of honour that features just four other players – Jonny Wilkinson, Dan Carter, Neil Jenkins and Diego Dominguez.
And Jenkins, now part of Wales’ coaching staff aiming to plot Ireland’s RBS Six Nations downfall at the Millennium Stadium today, believes O’Gara deserves the highest praise.
“We know how good a player he is,” he said. “He is a great bloke and a fantastic rugby player.”