Ball to end Wales career to return to Australia

·2-min read
Lock Jake Ball will end his career with Wales and the Scarlets to return to Australia at the end of the season

Jake Ball will effectively end his Wales career by leaving the Scarlets at the end of the season to return to Australia for family reasons.

The 29-year-old lock has won 49 caps since his debut in 2014, becoming one of Wales' frontline tight-five forwards.

Wales players must pass 60 caps to play for the nation while based overseas in club rugby.

Ball, however, has opted to return to Australia after missing the birth of his fourth child in November.

"It has been a difficult decision to make but one I have made for the family," said Ball.

"My wife was expecting our fourth child and, 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.

"Max was born last month. There have been Zoom calls and things, but I haven't seen him yet and it has been difficult. As the season goes on, it would be pretty tough of me to ask (his wife) Christie to come back here away from her family again."

Ball was born in Berkshire but grew up in Australia, qualifying for Wales through his father.

After rising to prominence with Western Force, he signed for the Scarlets in 2012.

"It has been a fantastic nine seasons I have been here. I love the Scarlets and playing with Wales has been unbelievable and something I will never forget," added Ball.

"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."

Scarlets head coach Glenn Delaney paid tribute to Ball, confirming the club's full respect for the lock forward's decision to put his family first.

"As a club we fully respect Jake'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," said Delaney.

"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."