England star rules himself out of Lions tour
NEWS: Centurion England scrumhalf Ben Youngs has ruled himself out of British and Irish Lions tour selection to South Africa, citing personal reasons for his unavailability.
The 31-year-old was an original pick for the 2017 tour to New Zealand before a family situation involving the wife of his brother Tom resulted in him opting out.
Now, the domestic situation regarding the No.9’s own wife has seen him opt out of the 2021 tour to the home of the Springboks. The Daily Mail are reporting that Youngs’ wife is pregnant with their third child and he felt it best to not allow his name to go forward for Lions consideration.
Twice capped on the 2013 Lions tour to Australia, Youngs had received a letter from Warren Gatland telling him he was in the mix for selection in the 36-strong squad that will be announced this Thursday for the latest tour.
It will commence with a June 26 game in Edinburgh versus Japan before eight matches follow in South Africa, including a three-Test series versus the reigning world champions.
However, that trip won’t involve Youngs, the 109-cap England scrumhalf.
“Whether or not I would have made the final cut, I’ll never know,” he told Sportsmail just days before the keenly anticipated Gatland squad announcement.
“I have got two young children and my wife is heavily pregnant with the third. This summer I have got an opportunity to be with my family and my kids.
“I have always loved the Lions. I will be cheering them on and I wish everyone involved a healthy and successful tour. It’s not a decision that I have taken lightly, but it is the best decision for my family,”
The absence of Youngs will further cloud the selection at scrumhalf as there is no clear must-start No.9 following the recent Six Nations.
Lions selectors were said to have considered the names of 57 potential tourists for the squad when Gatland first met last month with his assistant coaches and Sportsmail claim non-internationals Danny Care and Ben Spencer are under scrumhalf consideration.