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Future stars sign new Tigers contracts

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Ben Youngs and Greig Tonks, two of the club's most promising prospects, have joined captain Martin Corry, Brett Deacon and Johne Murphy in signing new contracts with Leicester Tigers this month.

Scrum-half Youngs became the youngest player in Tigers’ league history when he made his club debut in last year’s Guinness Premiership fixture at Bristol. The son of former England No9 Nick and brother of fellow Tiger Tom, Ben went on to feature in the 2006/07 Premiership Final win over Gloucester.

His progress has continued this season with the 18-year-old having played 10 first-team fixtures so far in 2007/08.

“I’m delighted to have re-signed,” says Youngs. “It’s definitely the best place for me to be. I’m learning from Harry Ellis and the other players and that’s a great thing for me.

“What’s happened over the last season or so has been really unexpected and it’s been a huge bonus. I had a great time last year and it’s been the same this year. I’ll hopefully keep on improving and then see where it takes me.”

A Grand Slam winner with England U-20 this season, and a former U-16 and U-18 international, Youngs has also earned international recognition on the IRB World Sevens circuit, although the Norfolk-born youngster insists making the step up to England Saxons couldn’t be any further from his mind.  

“Sevens has definitely helped me progress. It’s improved my fitness and work rate and it’s helped with dealing with pressure. The next step isn’t something I’ve thought about, though. I’m just concentrating on trying to become a regular in the Tigers matchday squad. I’m looking forward to pre-season and, hopefully, I can keep on improving next year.”

While Youngs has already made an impression at first-team level, Tonks is yet to make his debut in Tigers colours, although he is unlikely to have to wait too much longer. The academy product had been in fine form for Nottingham this season until injury prematurely ended his campaign.

“Things have been going well, but I’ve had a knee injury which has ruled me out recently,” says Tonks. “The rehab’s coming on, though, and I’m hoping to be back by the start of the season. I just want to keep on learning, keep working hard and, fingers crossed, I’ll get a look in with the first-team at some point next season.”

One of a number of players to have experienced regular rugby thanks to loan arrangements this season, Tonks believes his time in National One has been a huge boost to his development.

“Nottingham are in the top three in National One at the moment so it’s been good to be part of a winning mentality. I’ve had a lot of game time there and that’s been a big help. If I’m with Nottingham as well next year, then I’ll be looking for more of the same.”

Like his England U-20s team-mate, Tonks also believes the quality of players within the Tigers squad makes the club the perfect place to progress.

“Over the past few years, Geordan Murphy’s been one of the best full backs in the game. Hopefully, I’ll be able to keep learning from him and the other first-team players and that should help my own game.”