Losing to Scots would be a shambles, says England’s Youngs

BEN YOUNGS declared England’s RBS 6 Nations campaign would be rendered a “shambles” if they lose to Scotland today.

England are unbeaten after three matches and on the trail of a first championship title and Grand Slam since the World Cup-winning year of 2003.

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,” Youngs said.

“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.”

Martin Johnson has placed England on a war footing ahead of the clash.

Scotland are without a win at Twickenham since 1983, and Johnson has seen no signs of complacency from his improving team — but he warned England will have to expect the unexpected from Andy Robinson’s side.

To reinforce the point, Johnson quoted Captain Harry Parker, the wounded serviceman who addressed England on the eve of their record victory over Australia in November.

“No plan survives first contact with the enemy,” said Johnson, who has made just one enforced change from England’s 17-9 victory over France, with Alex Corbisiero replacing injured prop Andrew Sheridan.

“We have to be smart. They will have things ready for this game that we haven’t seen all tournament.

“This squad is moving in the right direction. Our best now is better than it was a year ago — our top end is better.

“But no-one is patting themselves on the back. Luxury and comfort are not words you associate with playing international rugby.

“We have earned everything we have got so far, nothing has come by chance. We have to do that again because if we don’t get it right, we know what can happen.

“It doesn’t always go your way because the opposition are always putting all their effort and hard work into beating you.

“There is years and years of history behind this game, which makes it exciting. It is what makes the Six Nations fun.

“England against Scotland, Wales, France, Ireland — we have got a history with everyone. There is an axe to grind.”

Meanwhile, Scotland lock Richie Gray is hoping his first trip to Twickenham ends in success: “I’m really excited and I can’t wait to get down there,” said Gray.

“I can’t imagine talking too much about making history.

“Our focus is on playing a very good side and registering our first win of the tournament.

“Playing a team at the top of the championship, there’s no greater motivation.

“For any international match, players are really motivated and can’t wait to get on the park.

“With England there is the Old Enemy mindset. It will add something a wee bit more special.”

ENGLAND: B Foden; C Ashton, M Tindall (capt), S Hape, M Cueto; T Flood, B Youngs; A Corbisiero, D Hartley, D Cole; L Deacon, T Palmer; T Wood, J Haskell, N Easter.

Replacements: S Thompson, P Doran-Jones, S Shaw, T Croft, D Care, J Wilkinson, M Banahan.

SCOTLAND: C Paterson; S Danielli, J Ansbro, S Lamont, M Evans; R Jackson, R Lawson; A Jacobsen, R Ford, M Low; R Gray, A Kellock (capt); N Hines, J Barclay, K Brown.

Replacements: S Lawson, G Cross, R Vernon, A Strokosch, M Blair, D Parks, N De Luca.

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