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Mowen drops Wallabies for France

Thu, 09 Jan 2014 06:47
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I will be cheering hard from a distance
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Wallaby captain Ben Mowen said he will quit Australia and move to France later this year, ruling him out of the 2015 World Cup.

The 29-year-old said an intense travel schedule and missing time with his young daughter convinced him it was time to put his family first - effectively ending his international career just seven months after it started.

"I have loved the opportunity to play for the Wallabies and I have been fortunate to play alongside and be mentored by many incredible players, coaches and other members of the Australian community during my career," Mowen said.

"While my desire to play for Australia is still extremely strong, my priority is to spend more time with my wife and our daughter.

"I would have loved my career to have lined up to help Australia win the next Rugby World Cup, but my priority at this stage in my life is my family.

"I will be cheering hard from a distance - we have the squad and coaching staff to achieve a Rugby World Cup win in 2015 and I wish them all the very best."

Mowen, who has played 15 Tests for Australia, made his international debut last June against the British and Irish Lions and was promoted to captain ahead of James Horwill for the year-end tour of Europe, which featured five international fixtures in November.

Wallaby coach Ewen McKenzie said the shock decision means Mowen will not be eligible for national selection in 2015, but the door would remain open for him if he wants to return to Australia.

"I've known Ben throughout his career and I've enjoyed watching him reach the pinnacle of our sport by representing Australia and leading the national team as captain," McKenzie said.

"He has been in touch with me regularly throughout his decision-making process and he has approached this decision in his usual style - with professionalism and diligence.

"It's obviously disappointing to lose a player of Ben's calibre, but after speaking to him about his personal priorities, we appreciate that he is making this decision based on what is the right for him personally and professionally.

"I wish him every success and he knows he is always welcome in Australian Rugby in the future."

Mowen insists he will leave Australia with no regrets and his impending move to France will allow him to spend more time with wife Lauren and 18-month-old Eleanor.

Mowen spent almost seven months away from his family during a hectic 2013, which included a Super Rugby finals campaign, a British and Irish Lions series and six-week tour of Europe.

The Brumbies skipper said he would play the Super Rugby season in Canberra before moving abroad.

"I'm extremely grateful for the opportunities I have had throughout my career, but in the meantime, my focus will be on ensuring the Brumbies win the 2014 Super Rugby competition."

He added he was in the final stages of negotiating a deal in France.

Australian Rugby Union CEO Bill Pulver said Mowen will be missed.

"Ben has been an outstanding contributor to Australian Rugby and role model since he made his Super Rugby debut in 2006," Pulver said.

"Rugby is an international business and while we're disappointed to know Ben will be heading to France in 2015, we respect his decision.

"On behalf of the Australian community, I want to thank him for his significant contribution and wish him all the best for the future on and off the field."

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