Rugby-Ball to leave Wales and Scarlets at the end of the season

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LONDON (Reuters) - Wales lock Jake Ball announced on Tuesday he will leave Scarlets at the end of the season to be with his family in Australia, effectively ending his international career.

The 29-year-old said he had made the decision for family reasons after his wife Christie gave birth to their fourth child in Australia in November.

"With Covid around and players having to be in bubbles and everything, we made the decision that she and the kids should go home to have some family help and support around her," he told the Scarlets' website.

"Max was born last month; there have been Zoom calls and things, but I haven’t seen him yet and it has been difficult.

"It has been a massive honour to represent my country, but at the end of the day I made a huge sacrifice in staying behind for a year without my family. I have four kids now and I won’t have seen them for close on a year."

The PRO14 season is due to end on March 27.

Ball, who is British-born but grew up in Australia, moved to Wales from Perth's Western Force in 2012 and has made 127 appearances for Llanelli-based Scarlets.

He has 49 caps for Wales but under current rules must have more than 60 to remain eligible for selection if playing overseas.

Scarlets head coach Glenn Delaney said the club respected Ball's decision.

"Family is a massive part of the Scarlets and Jake has sacrificed a huge amount being away from Christie and his children for so long," he said.

"He has been a wonderful servant for the Scarlets, an outstanding player, a great bloke around the group and has been a fantastic mentor to the young players who are coming through."

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar)