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Ben Youngs withdraws from Lions squad due to family reasons

The England scrum-half had been included in Warren Gatland’s 41-man squad for this summer’s tour of New Zealand.

Youngs toured with the Lions back in 2013.
Youngs toured with the Lions back in 2013.
Image: Inpho/Billy Stickland

ENGLAND AND LEICESTER Tigers scrum-half Ben Youngs has pulled out of this summer’s Lions tour due to family reasons.

Youngs had been included in Warren Gatland’s 41-man squad for the series against New Zealand.

The wife of Ben’s older brother Tom, himself a Leicester and England hooker, has been suffering with cancer for three years and the family have recently received the devastating news that the illness is terminal.

A statement released by Leicester Tigers this evening read:

“Leicester Tigers scrum-half Ben Youngs has withdrawn from the squad for the British & Irish Lions tour to New Zealand for family reasons.

“The wife of Ben’s brother Tom has been battling cancer for three years and the family has now received the devastating news that the illness is terminal.

“Ben Youngs was included in a 41-man squad for his second tour with the British & Irish Lions but this weekend informed head coach Warren Gatland of his decision to remain at home.”

Youngs, who toured with the Lions in 2013, said: ”We are a very close family and, as I am sure everyone can respect, time is now precious together.

“The most important thing for me at this difficult time is to be able to offer as much support as I can to Tom and his family in the remaining time we all have together.

“It is a great honour to be selected as a member of the British & Irish Lions squad and I would like to thank Warren Gatland, the staff and the other players for their understanding in this situation. I wish them well and, like all rugby supporters in British and Ireland, hope they have a successful tour.”

Saturday saw Leicester secure their place in the title-deciding English Premiership play-offs and the Tigers said both Youngs brothers would still play the remainder of the domestic season for the Midlands club.

“Both families hope their privacy can be respected at this difficult time,” said the club statement.

“There will be no further comment from Tom, Ben or from Leicester Tigers at this point.”

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