England's Youngs sets his sights on 2023 World Cup

London (AFP) –


Ben Youngs may have won 100 England caps but the scrum-half now wants to mentally start all over again with a "clean slate" in the hope of playing at the 2023 World Cup in France.

Youngs became only the second player after retired prop Jason Leonard to make a century of England international appearances when he reached the landmark last month.

And he then marked the occasion in style with two tries in a man-of-the-match display as England beat Italy 34-5 in Rome, a result that proved sufficient to secure the Six Nations title.

England coach Eddie Jones will name his side to play Georgia in their Autumn Nations Cup opener at Twickenham this weekend on Thursday, with the 31-year-old Youngs approaching the match as if he were an aspiring international.

"The short-term goal is Georgia. Long-term, I want to be part of the World Cup in 2023," Youngs, a member of the England side beaten by South Africa in last year's Word Cup final in Japan, told a conference call.

Youngs added a previous landmark had helped him to put his 100th cap in perspective.

"I remember distinctly when I played my 50th that I made it into something that it wasn't in going out there, playing really well and justifying why I got 50.

"So I guess experience helped when I got to 100 because I treated it like another game, I just played.

"Afterwards I allowed myself to absorb everything and appreciate what I had done. I then wanted to have a clean slate, start again and envision that I'm starting from one again."

Youngs has been England's first-choice scrum-half for much of the past decade, but he still believes he's some way short of veteran status.

"I got experience at Test level at a young age," he explained. "You can get out there a bit earlier as a scrum-half.

"I don't see myself yet as the guy who is mid-30s and still trying to figure out ways of staying at the top. I still see myself as the 31-year-old that is full of enthusiasm and desire to get better.

"You can look anywhere for athletes who are still at the top of their game -- Roger Federer, Richard Wigglesworth, (Cristiano) Ronaldo -- but I don't feel right now that is something I need to focus on. I'm not at that stage yet."