England scrum-half Ben Youngs has made himself unavailable for selection for the upcoming British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa due to family reasons.
Youngs is among the 50 players reported to have been in contention for the series beginning with a warm-up game against Japan at
Murrayfield Stadium on 26th June but now has dropped himself out of a probable selection.
Youngs and his wife Charlotte are expecting their third child and the 31-year-old feels with the quarantine restrictions and the biosecure bubble protocols in place, it would be tough to stay away from his family for an extended period.
"Whether I had made the final cut or not, no-one knows anyway," Youngs told The Telegraph.
"But because of the perspective I have had from four years ago and secondly because I have two young children and a third on the way - my wife is going to be heavily pregnant - this would have been a long period away from them.
"It has been a long couple of seasons now and so I just want to make sure I am here for the family and will be cheering the Lions on from afar."
Youngs is the most capped scrum-half for England and has featured in 109 Tests apart from another two for the British and Irish Lions that came during the 2013 tour of Australia. He was also selected in the Lions squad for the 2017 tour of New Zealand but withdrew himself from the tour party due to family reasons with Scotland's Greig Laidlaw replacing him.
Gatland is expected to name the 36-man squad for the Lions on Thursday .