Imagine being 22, having played Premiership rugby as a centre, and then being told that, if you want to be really good, you are going to have to re-train as a hooker.
It’s a frightening prospect but one that my Tigers team mate Tom Youngs has been through over the last three years.
His four starts over the autumn in an England shirt were a spectacular ending to that journey. It’s good to have him back at the club now.
Tom has proved that he is good enough for the very highest level and he will only get better from here on in.
I’m really chuffed for him. Youngsy is a great lad and he works his socks off.
Everyone at the club knew Tom was good enough to compete for his country because of what he gives you around the field.
On defence, he has no respect for his body and will tackle anything that moves.
In attack, his ball-carrying is as good as any hooker I have seen at the top level.
There has been some fuss made over his throwing but I think that has been unfair. Most of the time, it’s no worse than any other hooker might go through on an off day. Tom just treats it as a bad day at the office and moves on.
You have to be a seriously strong character to have gone through the change in positions like Tom has.
Our old head coach Heyneke Meyer was behind it and it was a move that could have changed Tom’s life completely because, when you start that transition, it would be almost impossible to turn back.
It takes a huge character to take that on and I have a massive amount of respect for Tom for knuckling down and getting on with it.
He knew he would have to take two steps backwards before moving forwards but he just got on with it.
He had to go on loan to Nottingham and play in our second team for a long time while he was learning the ropes. Also remember that he took this on while all of his mates at Leicester, who had played age group rugby with him, were getting game time in the first team.
Seeing Tom out there this November in an England shirt was tremendous. He is going to be a serious asset for both club and country.
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