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BEN YOUNGS made the ‘perfect decision’ in missing the British & Irish Lions tour of South Africa as there are ‘more important things than rugby’, according to his former England teammate Mike Brown.
The Leicester Tigers scrum-half, who hails from Aylsham, ruled himself out of contention in May in order to stay at home with his family, with his wife expecting the couple’s third child this summer.
It is the second successive Lions tour Youngs has missed for family reasons, having withdrawn from the 2017 series in New Zealand when his sister-in-law was battling cancer, and Brown has no doubt the 31-year-old has done the right thing.
“It’s a perfect decision as it’s one that’s best for him,” said Brown, speaking on behalf of Land Rover, an Official Sponsor of the British & Irish Lions.
“He wouldn’t have taken it lightly but good on him for being open and honest and doing what’s best for him and his family, as that’s the most important thing at the end of the day.
“If he’s not going to be 100 per cent in it, he should stay at home as there are more important things than rugby.”
Youngs’ absence created a battle for places as back-up to Conor Murray, the experienced Irishman who has now been named as the tour captain following Alun Wyn Jones’ injury.
Gareth Davies and Ali Price were selected as Murray’s rivals for the No.9 jersey but Brown feels Danny Care should have been on the plane having witnessed his impact in the Premiership-winning Harlequins environment at close quarters.
“He’s shown the quality he’s got so there’s no reason he couldn’t have been picked for this tour and I’m sure he was very close,” said Brown, who is joining Newcastle Falcons from Quins ahead of next season.
“It’s a shame he was up against guys who were playing in the Six Nations for their countries as that puts you behind the eight-ball.
“But I would have taken him. I know what he’s about, I know how good he is around the group.
“Everyone can see how well he’s played this year and outside of [Conor] Murray, there wasn’t really anyone massively putting their hands up.”
Brown is helping to connect rugby fans across the country with the British & Irish Lions, with Land Rover having launched a nationwide rugby themed treasure hunt.
Over 900 UK locations have been tagged with a digital Lion, with rugby fans encouraged to visit https://lionsadventure.com/to find their nearest tagged location.
To enter the competition, all fans need to do is visit the tagged location, find the digital Lion, and tap them via the Lions Adventure site on their phone.
In doing so, fans will be in with a chance of winning exclusive prizes including signed Lions merchandise and an exclusive screening of the second Lions Test match on July 31.
“It’s not like a normal Lions tour with all the fans over there so it’s a great initiative to help fans over here feel part of it as much as possible,” Brown said.
“To have grassroots clubs as part of it is great as all of us who reach this level owe everything to those clubs and the amazing people who run them.”
Join Land Rover on its Lions Adventure, and be in with a chance to win exclusive prizes. Visit https://lionsadventure.com/ and follow @LandRoverRugby on Twitter.