England scrum-half Ben Youngs has made himself unavailable for selection for the British and Irish Lions due to family reasons.
The 31-year-old’s wife Charlotte is pregnant with their third child and he felt unable to commit to spending nine weeks away from his family in a biosecure bubble in South Africa.
Youngs won two caps for the Lions against Australia in 2013 but withdrew from the 2017 tour of New Zealand after the wife of his brother, fellow Leicester Tiger Tom, had been diagnosed with cancer.
“Whether I had made the final cut or not, no-one knows anyway,” Youngs told The Telegraph.
“But because of the perspective I have had from four years ago and secondly because I have two young children and a third on the way – my wife is going to be heavily pregnant – this would have been a long period away from them.
“It has been a long couple of seasons now and so I just want to make sure I am here for the family and will be cheering the Lions on from afar.”
Lions head coach Warren Gatland is due to name his squad to face the world champions on Thursday and Youngs was in contention for one of the three scrum-half selections.
“I haven’t spoken to Warren directly,” said Youngs. “We got an email as a survey with a few questions and one of them was ‘would you be available for the summer and if you are not selected would you be available at a later date if needed for injuries’.
“Four years ago I had made the squad so I rang Gats directly. This time I didn’t feel the need to speak to the coaches directly because I may have not been on the initial plane anyway.”
He added: “I am comfortable with the decision. I went on tour in 2013 and had a fantastic time, I went with my brother Tom and had my family out there.”
Read More: Sports News