Sam Warburton to captain British and Irish Lions in tour opener

Laura Christensen
June 1, 2017

First up is a clash with a Provincial Barbarians side on Saturday, a match that kicks off a remarkably tough schedule for the tourists.

"A lot have been training hard and I think we're all relived to be here to get on with the real business".

"Ideally, we'd love to win all of those games but, as long as we get better and better after each fixture, then that's good".

The Lions will face an All Blacks team who are back-to-back world champions and have held top spot on the worldwide rankings since 2009.

There are three New Zealand born players in the match day squad. It's all about winning at this level.

Fans have also been encouraged to engage with the campaign and invited to share photos of their own red jerseys using the hashtag #MakeThemSeeRed for a chance to win a last minute trip to New Zealand.

"I don't care how we win", was Sam Warburton's message as he faced the media in their first press conference on New Zealand soil.

"It's all about the Test series", Warburton said.

World Rugby have named Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Romain Poite (France), and Jerome Garces (France) to referee the three Tests, with the same three taking the Assistant Referee duties for the matches they're not refereeing.

Ireland lock Iain Henderson said the men in green "got under the All Blacks' skin" in their shock 40-29 win and the Lions will aim to do the same in New Zealand. Now with a little over three weeks to the first Test, the clock is ticking for Hansen's walking wounded.

"That's six weeks, and I get to take off my cast - that's when I can really start using it again, so all things are pointing towards it being positive", Read told NZ Newswire.

Warburton had been at the forefront as the Lions were greeted at the airport with a traditional Maori welcome, known as powhiri, and he took part in a nose-rubbing ceremony (hongi), with a Maori warrior. "So, a great start to the tour".

They will instead play at Rugby League Park in Christchurch against the Canterbury Crusaders, who are now leading the Super Rugby competition and will be no pushover for Warren Gatland's men.

The British and Irish Lions have arrived in Auckland to a Maori welcome followed by a rapturous reception from travelling supporters. The thing we're disappointed in on the domestic side is the preparation time. Having been knocked out against the Bulls last weekend, the 23-year-old faces return to play protocols before he can be passed fit to face the Lions. "So that aspect is disappointing, but that's our lot, that's what we have to react to".

Other reports by TheDigitalNewspaper

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