O'Connor backs Youngs for Lions


New Leicester Tigers head coach Matt O’Connor said scrum-half Ben Youngs should “definitely” go on the British Lions’ tour of New Zealand after his performance in the 30-3 victory over Newcastle Falcons.

Youngs, 27, who made two appearances for the Lions on the 2013 tour of Australia, secured the Tigers a bonus point with a brilliant 72nd-minute solo try from a quickly-taken penalty.

He also stopped a certain try for Falcons winger Vereniki Goneva with a fine last-ditch tackle in the 30th minute with the scores level at 3-3.

Prop Ellis Genge [2] and full-back Telusa Veainu scored Leicester’s other tries to ensure O’Connor a winning start to his second spell as Tigers’ head coach.

Asked whether England No. 9 Youngs should be on the plane this summer, O’Connor said: “Definitely. Why would you not pick him? He is as good as there is at nine in the world at the moment and the added responsibility of the captaincy worked in his favour.

“He is a world-class player and he delivers most weeks. I am happy he is playing really well for us.”

Australian O’Connor, who succeeded Aaron Mauger, helped Leicester win three Premiership titles between 2008 and 2013 and believes they can win another one.

With Bath losing to Worcester, Leicester’s fate is in their hands. If they win their last two games — at home to Sale and away to Worcester — they will finish fourth and make the play-offs for the 13th successive season.

He said: “I think we have 25, 30, 40 per cent growth in us, so it will be interesting to see how we go in the next two games. If we look after the ball, four, five, six times better, you are talking about those numbers. We are good enough to beat anyone.”