Updated: Thursday, 09 January 2014 07:56 | By Agence France-Presse

Wallaby skipper Mowen quits Australia for France

Wallabies captain Ben Mowen said Thursday he will quit Australian rugby and move to France later this year, ruling him out of the 2015 World Cup.

Wallaby skipper Mowen quits Australia for France

Australia's rugby player Ben Mowen looks on during the captain's run at Twickenham Stadium, southwest of London, on November 1, 2013

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.

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

"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 Grand Slam tour of Europe, which featured five international fixtures in November.

Wallabies 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.

"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," McKenzie said.

"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."

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. He told Fairfax Media he was in the final stages of negotiating a deal in France.

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