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Lions To Call Up As Many As Six New Players For Chiefs Clash

ROTORUA, NEW ZEALAND - JUNE 15: Warren Gatland, the Lions head coach looks on during the British & Irish Lions training session held at the Rotorua International Stadium on June 15, 2017 in Rotorua, New Zealand. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

The British & Irish Lions could call up as many as six players for next weekend’s fixture against the Chiefs in order to protect their Test 23.

With Owen Farrell’s participation in the first Test in serious doubt and Stuart Hogg’s tour already over with an eye injury, Warren Gatland looks set to draft in reinforcements as he aims to preserve some more of his key men ahead of that all-important first Test against the All Blacks several days later.

Assistant coach Steve Borthwick was giving little away in a press briefing in Rotoura ahead of this weekend’s clash with Maori All Blacks:

“I think if there’s a situation where call-ups are going to happen for any player that will be dealt with at the appropriate time when an announcement’s to be made. And right now there’s no announcement,” he said.

“I’m not giving what anyone else is saying a second thought. I’m concentrating on our team tomorrow. I’m concentrating on coaching the team as well as I can.”

Dunedin , New Zealand - 13 June 2017; Owen Farrell of the British and Irish Lions leaves following the match between the Highlanders and the British & Irish Lions at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin, New Zealand. (Photo By Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

However, the Times’ chief rugby correspondent Owen Slot (and, indeed, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen) expect new players to join up with the squad ahead of next Tuesday’s game, with a number ten in Farrell’s absence of utmost importance.

Slot makes the point that while George Ford would normally be the natural choice to come in and replace his compatriot, he is in a different time zone with Argentina (which would also seem to rule out Mike Brown at full-back) and suggests that Finn Russell could be poached from the Scotland squad in Australia.

Wales, meanwhile are also in New Zealand to face Tonga so selecting players from that squad will not be a problem at all, and Joe Schmidt’s Ireland are in Japan.

The identities of the players are not yet known – in fact, the players themselves are believed to have no idea if they will be selected, and are carrying on with their nations as normal until they are told otherwise.

DUNEDIN, NEW ZEALAND - JUNE 13: Warren Gatland, the Lions head coach looks on during the 2017 British & Irish Lions tour match between the Highlanders and the British & Irish Lions at Forsyth Barr Stadium on June 13, 2017 in Dunedin, New Zealand. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Interestingly, the report in the Times also claims that this was always the plan regardless of the subsequent injuries to Hogg and Farrell, alleging that Gatland had cleared his plans to increase the squad to 45 (or even higher) in advance of the initial panel’s departure for New Zealand.


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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.