Dublin - Ben Youngs hopes the bitter experience he gained
from England's last attempt to win a Grand Slam in Ireland will help prevent
another Dublin debacle this weekend.
Victory for England, who've already retained their Six
Nations title, over Ireland on Saturday would see them complete back-to-back
Grand Slams and mean they had set a new record of 19 consecutive Test victories
by a leading rugby union nation.
But six years ago they arrived at Lansdowne Road just 80
minutes away from a Six Nations clean sweep only to suffer a chastening 24-8
Leicester scrumhalf Youngs is one of several England survivors
from that loss, including current captain Dylan Hartley.
"I remember I think (Ireland's) Tommy Bowe scored with
a quick tap. I don't know what the score was at half-time (17-3 to Ireland) but
it was probably chasing it in wet weather," Youngs said.
"I'm sure it will be wet again at the weekend, or at
least it's meant to be. You don't want to put yourself in a position where
you're chasing the game as early on as we were in 2011."
Six years ago, England were 14-0 behind inside half an hour
and almost out of the game as Ireland came flying out of the blocks.
"Those first 20 minutes are going to be vital for us
and we'll put a massive emphasis on making sure we get those early exchanges
right," said the 27-year-old Youngs, now a veteran of 71 Tests.
England dominated from the start in last week's 61-21
title-clinching thrashing of Scotland at Twickenham - a match where they scored
seven tries, including a hat-trick for centre Jonathan Joseph, as they equalled
world champions' New Zealand's record of 18 Test wins in a row.
Youngs believes an equally aggressive approach will also
serve England well in Dublin.
"This weekend we'd much rather be the ones doing that
and go out and attack it rather than waiting to see what the pace of the game
is like," he said.
Youngs, fly-half George Ford and inside centre Owen Farrell
have formed an effective midfield combination in attack for England, with the
trio involved in several tries against Scotland.
"I think George has matured so much, he's always been
mature in terms of a rugby head but he has taken his game to the next
level," said Youngs, who can look forward to playing alongside Ford at
club level again when the Bath No 10 returns to Leicester at the end of the
"He's unbelievably selfless in terms of how he
operates, giving boys time on the ball. His touches and his kicking game and
all that. It's a joy to be fair.
"One of the other things is that we're very fortunate
to sit behind a juggernaut pack which always helps. I thought these boys have
put us on the front foot a number of times in these games and that's allowed us
to then put other teams under pressure.
"We'll need that at the weekend, we'll need the pack to
get us on the front foot."
Whatever happens on Saturday, England, who've yet to lose
under Australian coach Eddie Jones, will be collect the Six Nations trophy.
But having already suffered the awkward experience of
receiving silverware after a Dublin defeat, with England winning the 2011 Six
Nations, Youngs is in no mood for a repeat.
"It doesn't seem right to lose a game and then go and
get a trophy does it?," he said.