Lions call up six as cover ahead of first Test in New Zealand
Last Updated: 17/06/17 12:58pm
The British and Irish Lions have, as expected, called up six players to add cover ahead of the first Test against New Zealand next week.
Wales quartet Kristian Dacey, Cory Hill, Tomas Francis and Gareth Davies will join the tour along with Scotland duo Allan Dell and Finn Russell.
Lions head coach Warren Gatland has opted for players from Wales and Scotland due to the close proximity of their matches to New Zealand - the former are in New Zealand while the latter are in Australia. England players, meanwhile, are in Argentina while Ireland are touring Japan.
"We have said all along that we need to give ourselves the best chance of winning the Test series and that could potentially involve calling up players," explained Gatland.
"Bringing in these players from an identical time zone, who can hit the ground running and step straight in rather than having to adjust following long-haul travel, will help us manage players before the first Test, give us quality training numbers to prepare properly as well as offering us options for selection for the Chiefs match."
All Blacks boss Steve Hansen predicted the Lions' call-ups on Thursday.
The Lions have been accused of favouring geographical proximity above meritocracy with the additions but they are understood to have told their initial 41-man squad at their "messy Monday" admin day in May that they planned to bring in mid-tour reinforcements to safeguard the Test line-up against injury.
Gatland added: "These are players currently on international duty who we are looking forward to welcoming into the Tour party as we did with several players in 2013.
"I spoke to all the home union coaches prior to departure and explained our thinking and they were all supportive."