Family tragedy rules Ben out of NZ
BEN YOUNGS has pulled out of the Lions tour to New Zealand after the wife of his brother Tom Youngs was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Leicester Tigers and England scrum-half Ben was selected in the 41-man squad by Warren Gatland last month, along with fellow number nines Conor Murray and Rhys Webb.
The 27-year-old informed Gatland this weekend that he would be staying at home, due to the terminal diagnosis given to Tiffany, the 31-year-old wife of his brother and fellow England international Tom.
A statement on Leicester’s website read: “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 added: “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 Britain and Ireland, hope they have a successful tour.”
Both Youngs brothers are set to represent the Tigers for the remainder of the Premiership season. Tom scored a try yesterday as Leicester secured a semi-final berth against Wasps by beating Worcester Warriors 28-23.
Ben won two caps for the Lions in their winning tour of Australia four years ago.
Gatland last night called up Scotland captain Greg Laidlaw to fill the Youngs gap. The loss of Youngs has been partially off-set by the return to fitness of Ireland’s Conor Murray.
He played 28 minutes of Munster’s 50-14 Pro12 win over Connacht at Thomond Park yesterday, making his first appearance since suffering shoulder-related nerve damage while on Ireland duty two months ago.
Trio: Tom Youngs with wife Tiffany and daughter