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He ain't heavy, he's my brother!

2015-09-17 19:16
Bismarck du Plessis (Gallo Images)

London - Need a shoulder to cry on? The idea should be anathema in rugby but if such a moment is needed during the World Cup chances are there is a brother in the squad to soak up the tears.

England has the Youngs brothers and the Vunipolas, all four of whom should see some action in the World Cup opener against Fiji on Friday. World champions New Zealand have the Franks, Springboks the du Plessis, the Irish the Kearneys and Samoa trumps them all with the three Pisi boys.

Ben and Tom Youngs -- the second set of brothers to play for England at a World Cup after Rory and Tony Underwood in 1995 -- have looked out for each other from the time they were in short pants. And with both suffering from dyslexia -- like their father Nick a former England scrum-half -- found rugby the perfect panacea.

"That was probably my worst nightmare," Ben told the Daily Mail.

"I struggled academically because I suffer from dyslexia, like a lot of rugby players. My brother and my dad do. Sport was always the escape route," added the scrum-half.

Ben, who unlike hooker Tom does not like working on the family farm and as a teenager preferred to sunbathe in the fields while his sibling did the hard labour, said it is an extra incentive to play well with your brother alongside you.

"Playing for England is fantastic anyway," said Ben Youngs, who will win his 50th cap in the opening game against Fiji on Friday.

"In a team sport you don't want to let your mates down. But even more so with your brother. I don't want to let him down in my department and he doesn't want to let me down in his.

"It's a great bond, a great feeling, knowing that we have ticked the box for each other."

The Franks too bonded at a very early age -- indeed there is no apparent rivalry with any of these siblings -- not least because Ben, at 31 the elder by four years, saved Owen's life in 1999.

He ran back into their burning home after awaking the other members of the clan to rescue his brother, who was asleep.

"It's like playing with your best mate," Owen told the New Zealand Herald.

Occasionally, though, things on the training pitch could see even their deep camaraderie boil over and that was a true clash of the titans given their daily menu as children was eight sandwiches for lunch, as well as eight eggs and 10 Weetabix for breakfast.

"We were doing driving mauls and they are messy at the best of times," Owen told website

"Ben kind of ripped at my face and I took exception to it. I think I actually tried to knee him in the head, which was pretty dirty.

"I thought we were just playing in the backyard and forgot we were at training. He jumped out of the maul straight away, tried to punch me and then we were into it.

"It happened pretty quick. Everyone else was pretty shocked but it was kind of normal for us."

However, that incident aside Owen is sad his elder brother will be leaving the New Zealand rugby scene after the World Cup to play for English Premiership side London Irish.

"Obviously we are pretty close, we still talk on the phone every week and when we are in the All Blacks we are with each other 24/7," said Owen.

The Pisi brothers are all backs, with Tusi the eldest at 33 followed by George, 29, and the youngest Ken at 26. Brotherly love has taken strange forms with the Samoans.

"When Ken was small, Tusi and I used him for tackling practice," said George.

"Later, whenever we were on opposite sides in a game, I had this extra-special feeling of just wanting to smash him."

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