Club captain Tom Youngs says he is ‘massively proud’ to see four Leicester Tigers academy players called up by England this summer.
Sam Edwards, Emeka Ilione, Kit Smith and Archie Vanes have all been named in an England Under-18 squad for the development tour to South Africa, which will see them come up against teams from Argentina, France and South Africa Schools ahead of the new season.
And, as an academy graduate himself, Youngs explained how pleased he is to see the club’s conveyor belt of talent proven on an international stage.
“It’s a massively proud moment,” he said. “The players that come through the academy are the backbone of the first team, so it’s good to see those guys achieving things.
“And, if they’re achieving things, it means you’ve got some good hopefuls to come in and take Leicester Tigers on, as they are the future of the club.”
Youngs, who has 28 England caps and three Test appearances for the British & Irish Lions to his name, said the recognition for young players can only help the club’s cause, too.
“It’s really good to see,” he continued. “It's especially good to see four guys [selected] because that’s a good lump of players in that squad.
“I do take an interest in those young players – Under-17s, Under-18s and Under-20s – getting to tour different places and experience different environments, but the big goal is to put the first-team shirt on.
“You set that out early doors as your end goal and this recognition is just a stepping stone in achieving that.”
“I just want to help them as much as I can.”Tom Youngs
This season has seen more players than ever before promoted from the Tigers academy into the club’s development squad, thanks – in part – to the back-to-back Under-18 League titles over the past two years.
Youngs added: “I’ve been really impressed with all the young lads coming up, as I’ve been impressed with all the new people we’ve had come into the environment.
“The way we’ve attacked pre-season this year, it’s been as a group – a huge shift from last season in our mentality and what we want to be about, and that’s really pleasing.
“It’s great to have these young boys coming through, and I just want to help them as much as I can.
“I want to pass on my experience and what I’ve learned – how I operate – on to them in as limited a time as possible, to help them get over the line and achieve great things for Tigers.”