Inside the Tigers’ Den - Tom Youngs made Leicester Tigers club captain for 2016/17
Hooker Tom Youngs has been appointed Leicester Tigers club captain for the new season.
Despite being discarded by new England boss Eddie Jones, 29-year-old Youngs has been given the club captaincy.
The powerful hooker has the club’s colours running through his veins, having come through the academy, originally as centre. He failed to make the grade as a back but went away, dropped down a league to play for Nottingham where he was converted into a forward. Since then his star has been on the rise.
Youngs, whose brother Ben captained the club for most of last season, has now made more than 100 appearances for Tigers, as well as winning 28 caps for England and three for the British and Irish Lions in their series victory over Australia in 2013.
Youngs, said: “I am immensely proud to be club captain of the Tigers. It is without a doubt one of the highest things I have achieved in the game.
“I am a Leicester Tiger born and bred, I love the club and everything it stands for. To be captain is a huge honour and I’m very pleased to be given the opportunity.
“I’m looking forward to being able to lead the boys and doing whatever I can to help the club in competing for major honours.”
Youngs, who captained the club for the first time back in January in their win over Northampton Saints, is one of many leaders emerging from the team. In recent seasons Tigers have been skippered by Ed Slater, his brother Ben, and Mat Tait who all remain at the club and will remain important figures for the up-coming campaign when silverware starved Leicester will be looking to re-establish their dominance.
Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill said: “Tom is supported by a good strong group of leaders within the squad, including Ed Slater who has done an excellent job as club captain over the last couple of seasons, and experienced players like Mathew Tait, Dan Cole, Tom Croft, Manu Tuilagi, Ben Youngs, Owen Williams and Freddie Burns.”
“Tom is a Leicester man through and through, and has special links with the club where his father and brother have also played. He is a world-class player who leads by example on the field and he shows all the attributes of a true Leicester player.
“I’m delighted he has accepted the club captaincy and we’re looking forward to seeing a strong season from him and from the team.”
While Youngs is an understandable appointment, given all he has achieved in the game, his love of the club, and not too dissimilar style and outlook to Cockerill who of course was also a hooker, he will have to fight for his starting spot after the emergence of young Harry Thacker last season.
Youngs missed the second half of the season with a back injury which required surgery on a disc, meaning he only played 13 times for Leicester in 2015/16.
That gave Thacker, who is also the son of a former Tiger, hooker Troy Thacker, a run of games and he made his mark, winning a string of accolades for his eye catching performances.
Thacker, 22, was named supporters’ Young Player of the Year, Players’ Young Player of the Year and won the club and Aviva Premiership Try of the Season awards for his stunning score against Northampton from half way.
He was also nominated for the Land Rover Discovery of the Season award, just missing out to break-out star Maro Itoje.
At the RPA Awards Thacker was nominated for the LV= Young Player of the Year award and was a winner of the league’s Green Flag Forward of the Month as well as being twice named as the club’s Goldsmiths Player of the Month in 2015/16. Not bad.
Of course most hookers in the modern game only play about an hour of a match, meaning it is vital to have a strong second option so in an ideal world both players will get plenty of game time. Cockerill certainly seems confident with his options in that position as Leicester allowed Italian international Leonardo Ghiraldini, who has captained the Azzurri, to leave for Toulouse this summer, bringing in England Saxon George McGuigan from Newcastle Falcons as back up.
With Youngs seemingly off the England radar, having not played since the 2015 World Cup, he should be able to concentrate of giving his everything to Tigers’ cause.