Oita - England's Ben Youngs took a dig at Australian rival Matt To'omua on Friday in the run-up to this weekend's Rugby World Cup quarter-final, ribbing him for playing "second fiddle" to his wife in the celebrity stakes.

The Leicester scrumhalf was responding to a jibe by To'omua a day earlier in which his former Tigers team-mate said "Ben Youngs isn't even the best rugby player in his family, let alone the country".

Youngs, whose older brother Tom plays at hooker for Leicester, smiled when asked if he had heard the comments and wondered out loud whether To'omua wasn't living in the shadow of his wife Ellyse Perry, the Australian cricketer.

"He sent me the video clip," said Youngs, shaking his head.

"He's very happy with himself. But I thought it was quite ironic that he knows what it's like to play second fiddle, especially being married to Ellyse Perry. I feel for him, he knows my pain!"

To'omua, who spent three years at Leicester from 2016-2019, had also sledged old pals Manu Tuilagi, George Ford, Jonny May and Dan Cole before Saturday's crunch World Cup clash in Oita.

"I know all of their weaknesses luckily," boasted the Aussie playmaker.

"Manu is a terrible snooker player, George Ford never pays for a beer.

"The chicken, Jonny May - very weird," he added, referring to the unusual rumour that the England wing once thought he was possessed by a chicken.

"And Dan Cole doesn't have a personality."

Youngs admitted To'omua had a point about Ford not paying for drinks but noted there were mitigating factors.

"He's not far wrong in some of it," said Youngs.

"Fordy has never bought a pint because he's normally smoke-bombed (left) by that point or too drunk that he's actually left the building."

England, who won the World Cup in 2003, go into this week's quarter-final as favourites on the back of a six-game winning streak against two-time champions Australia.

With two weeks to prepare after a deadly typhoon forced the cancellation of their final Pool C game against France, England's players have been enjoying the hot springs on Japan's southern Kyushu island.

"We're really enjoying the onsens," said hulking centre Tuilagi. "It's a good form of recovery, especially after a hard day's training.

"There's a big one at the hotel - I haven't been out to a natural one but a few of the boys did and they enjoyed it."

Kick-off is at 09:15 (SA time) on Saturday.



15 Elliot Daly, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Manu Tuilagi, 11 Jonny May, 10 Owen Farrell (captain), 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Tom Curry, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola

Substitutes: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Dan Cole, 19 George Kruis, 20 Lewis Ludlam, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 George Ford, 23 Jonathan Joseph


15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Reece Hodge, 13 Jordan Petaia, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Will Genia, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 David Pocock, 5 Rory Arnold, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Tolu Latu, 1 Scott Sio

Substitutes: 16  Jordan Uelese, 17 James Slipper, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Adam Coleman, 20 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 21 Nic White, 22 Matt To'omua, 23 James O'Connor