Fam­ily tragedy rules Ben out of NZ

The Rugby Paper - - Front Page - ■ By SAM JACK­SON

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

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