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Ben Mowen quitting Australia to put family first
ESPN Staff
January 9, 2014
Ben Mowen will leave Australia after the Super Rugby season

Ben Mowen is quitting Australian rugby, the Brumbies and Wallabies captain telling Fairfax Media he will move to Europe at the end of the year. Mowen, 29, cited the intense travel schedule and lack of time with his wife and daughter Eleanor, behind his decision to put family ahead of his Rugby World Cup dreams.

Mowen made his Test debut against the British & Irish Lions only seven months ago, and he was promoted to captain for the Wallabies' Grand Slam tour of Europe in November, but he told Fairfax that he would leave Australia after the Super Rugby season with no regrets.

"It's the hardest decision of my career and I flipped 100 different ways trying to figure out which way I was going to go," Mowen said. "But being away for so long [with the Wallabies and the Brumbies], it was a bridge too far. It's time to put my family first, that's the most important thing. I'm extremely thankful for the opportunities I've had, but the reality is it is time to put my family first and have quality time together."

The same publication reported that Mowen was in the final stages of negotiating a deal in France, and that he told Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie and Brumbies coaches Stephen Larkham and Laurie Fisher of his decision on Monday.

"I am probably the first [Wallabies captain to be in this situation], but I'm also probably the first bloke to make his Test debut at 28 and retire at 29," Mowen added. "It was short and sweet for a Test career. It's a hard decision. It took months, but I'm comfortable where I've come to and I'm proud of the contribution I've made."

"At this point in time he's the incumbent captain, been playing No.8 and is a very influential player. His expertise particularly around lineouts and some of those areas of the game, he brings a point of difference." Ewen McKenzie says Ben Mowen leave a hole in the Wallabies ranks

McKenzie said on Fox Sports News: "We have been talking about this for a couple of months and he's obviously been conflicted about opportunities there are for him in rugby. We spoke earlier this week ... and expressed that he wants to spend more time with his family., and I understand that."

McKenzie described Mowen as "a very considered guy, he spends a lot of time thinking about things, he's not a rash and impulsive sort of guy, so he'll have weighed up all the different factors and made a decision at the end".

McKenzie said the Australian Rugby Union had made a concerted effort to keep Mowen, saying "we've been talking about contracts and things for some time, going back as far as June last year ... there's been a lot of discussions about a contract to stay" but he denied the departure of his Wallabies captain flagged a worry that players now were "choosing money over the green and gold".

"Guys have been choosing the European money for a long time," McKenzie said. "Players leave and players arrive ... it's just the cycle of sport ... I always look forward to the challenge of finding the new players on the scene."

McKenzie said that Mowen would leave a massive hole to fill. "At this point in time he's the incumbent captain, been playing No.8 and is a very influential player," he said. "His expertise particularly around lineouts and some of those areas of the game, he brings a point of difference. You miss those sorts of things, so we need someone else to step up.

The Wallabies coach said the door would remain open for Mowen to return to Australia.

"I don't burn bridges. He and I go back a long way, and we've got a very good relationship. You never say never on these sorts of things. He's obviously made a decision, and he'll go there but from an age perspective there's no reason he can't come back to Australia and play rugby in Australia and play for Australia again."

Australian Rugby Union chief executive Bill Pulver also paid tribute to Mowen, saying" Ben has been an outstanding contributor to Australian Rugby and role model since he made his Super Rugby debut in 2006".

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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