England Rugby World Cup star Ben Youngs hid retirement plan from Steve Borthwick

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Ben Youngs has revealed that England head coach Steve Borthwick only learned of his decision to retire from international rugby after picking the scrum-half for Friday’s bronze medal match against Argentina. Youngs will make his first start of the Rugby World Cup in what will be his 127th and final test match for the Red Rose.

The 34-year-old has decided to bow out of international rugby following England’s elimination in last weekend’s semi-final. Borthwick’s side were narrowly beaten 17-16 by South Africa in France.

But Youngs waited until Borthwick informed the Leicester star of his selection for the third-place clash against Argentina. He has no regrets about calling time on an international career that has spanned 13 years.

“Steve told me that I was playing, then after he told me I was playing, I told him, ‘There’s something you need to know’, because I hadn’t spoken to him about it at all and I wanted him to know. I said, ‘Look, this will be my last game and I’m grateful for the chance to do that.’

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“I’m proud and privileged that I’m able to call it a day on Friday and get that opportunity. I’ve done it for so long and there’s great talent within the nine jersey. It’s just right. It just feels right. I feel so content. 

“The fact I had this in my head for a long time and then I didn’t hesitate about it makes me realise that it’s absolutely the right decision. Even now, telling all of you, there’s not a part of me that thinks ‘what if’ – I’m absolutely making the right call.”

Youngs is England’s most-capped international ever. He will move 13 ahead of Jason Leonard’s 114 appearances when he takes to the field against Argentina.

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He continued: “I will miss the adrenalin of running out in front of a full stadium. ‘I’ll actually miss the pressure of big games, when everything is on the line.

“Playing alongside my brother was an incredibly proud moment for me. To get to 100 caps and be a part of that group is very special. The main thing is to do it consistently with such a hard position to play in and with such great competition.

“I have had four coaches with England and I have been picked by all four. And that is a nice touch. Every coach has a preference. Every coach wants different things but I have had four with England and I have been picked by all of them. I guess I am proud of that because it shows I clearly bring something to the party.”

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