Leicester Tigers on the rack as Youngs brothers ruled out and drop threat growing stronger after Exeter defeat
- Leicester suffered 52-20 loss at home to Exeter Chiefs as relegation fears grow
- Scrum-half Ben Youngs will miss rest of the season after a shoulder injury
- Hooker and captain Tom Youngs was sent off and may face a lengthy ban
Leicester are entering one of the most monumental weeks of their existence with an arm tied behind their back.
England scrum-half Ben Youngs is out for the rest of the Tigers’ worst season in living memory with a shoulder injury — which the club say he picked up with the national side. He will be sidelined for 12 weeks, which is a blow for England with stand-in Dan Robson already out.
Even worse, Ben’s brother Tom could be banned for the run-in as Tigers bid to avoid the humiliation of Premiership relegation.
Tom Youngs was sent off for Leicester in defeat by Exeter and may face a 12-week ban
The 32-year-old captain will surely be cited on Monday after he was sent off for a shoulder charge to the head of Exeter’s Ollie Atkins. The offence carries a suspension of six weeks.
Lose badly on Friday night to Newcastle, led by Dean Richards — who helped Leicester win two European Cups and four Premiership titles — and they could end up bottom if Worcester beat Sale.
‘It doesn’t rain, but it pours,’ said head coach Geordan Murphy. ‘We’re in a tough spot. We’ve lost Ben for the season and hopefully disciplinary will be fair on Tom’s case. We’ve lost Kyle Eastmond to a torn hamstring.
‘Tom Youngs isn’t a dirty player. He’s low and aggressive, but that’s what we want him to do. It’s a red card to the letter of the law, I get that, for player safety, it just needs to be refereed across the board. There’s no malice in it. I can’t coach to not clean breakdowns.’
Scrum-half Ben Youngs has been ruled out for the season after undergoing shoulder surgery
Having conceded the most points in a league game since 1988, Murphy realised the seriousness of Leicester’s situation.
‘It’s a precarious position,’ he said. ‘It’s really tight, teams in and around us have tough runs. We just focus on one game at a time.
‘It’s a huge game next week, and the week after that. We have to focus on Newcastle because that’s the be all and end all at the moment.’
Leicester have now lost 17 games in 20, conceding more tries than any other side in the league this season with 69.
The only consolation was that their relegation rivals — Newcastle, Bristol and Worcester — all suffered defeats as well. All four sides have won just six games this season, but they are only separated by bonus points.
Meanwhile Sportsmail understands the prognosis on Joe Cokanasiga’s shoulder injury is positive and he is set to return for the end-of-season run-in.
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