Tom Youngs: Leicester captain's bravery praised by head coach Matt O'Connor
Leicester head coach Matt O’Connor says Tom Youngs’ bravery in the face of his wife Tiffany’s terminal illness is a mark of the captain’s character.
Youngs, 30, will lead out Tigers in Saturday’s Premiership semi-final at Wasps, just weeks after learning the devastating news.
“He’s a very strong individual. There aren’t many I know who would cope with such news,” O’Connor told BBC Sport.
“The way Tommy has carried himself is a fantastic example to the whole group.”
Tiffany Youngs was diagnosed with cancer in 2014 and Tom pulled out of England’s tour of New Zealand that year to care for her.
His younger brother, Tigers and England team-mate Ben, withdrew from the British and Irish Lions squad earlier this month after the news emerged.
‘A better perspective on rugby’
Both will play against Wasps, with Tom making his 100th start for the club, as Leicester chase a first Premiership final appearance since the pair helped their side to victory in 2013.
“Tom is trying to keep it as normal as possible,” O’Connor said.
“The rugby club has been a fortress for him in the last couple of years and he understands he needs that support. The whole Youngs family is entrenched in that rugby club like no other.
“The nature of tragedy, disappointment and heartache is that it has the potential to bind everyone that little bit closer together, make the relationships stronger and make everybody a little bit more resilient.
“We’re a tighter knit group, we’re a more resilient group, we’ve got a better perspective on the game and what things are more important to us. That has tied us tighter to the fans and the community.”
O’Connor also described the emotional scenes when Youngs spoke to his team-mates about his wife’s health.
He continued: “Tommy stood up, addressed the lads, and said ‘I just hope this happens to none of you boys’.
“There were tears shed and there were hugs. The cliche is that ‘really bad things happen to really good people’ and this is one of those.”