England scrum-half Ben Youngs has withdrawn from contention for the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa because of family reasons.
Youngs was one of more than 50 players to receive an email from the Lions management last week, indicating he was under consideration for selection.
But the 31-year-old has made the decision to stay at home with his family this summer.
“Whether or not I would have made the final cut, I’ll never know,” he said.
Youngs, speaking to the Mail on Sunday, added: “I’ve got two young children and my wife is heavily pregnant with the third. This summer I’ve got an opportunity to be with my family and my kids.
“I have always loved the Lions. I’ll be cheering them on, and I wish everyone involved a healthy and successful tour.”
The players who received the email were asked whether they would be willing to travel to South Africa if selected, with the tour set to take place under strict coronavirus ‘bubble’ protocols.
Youngs is understood to be the only player in selection contention to have made himself unavailable.
He withdrew from the Lions tour to New Zealand in 2017 after the wife of his brother, England hooker Tom Youngs, was told she was terminally ill. Tiffany Youngs’ cancer later went into remission.
Lions head coach Warren Gatland will confirm his 36-man touring party on Thursday. Wales skipper Alun Wyn Jones is the favourite to be named tour captain, with England’s Maro Itoje the other leading contender.