"Welcome to the jungle" – tourists arrive in New Zealand
|British and Irish Lions 2017|
|Date: 3 June – 8 July Venue: New Zealand|
|Coverage: Live text commentary on every match on the BBC Sport website and mobile app.|
The Lions arrive
The Lions arrived at Auckland Airport on Wednesday lunchtime, with a smattering of travelling fans eager to catch a glimpse of the tourists.
The players and staff were greeted by a traditional Maori welcoming ceremony, with Welsh hooker Ken Owens leading a rendition of Calon Lan in response.
Owens verdict on the singing? “A work in progress.”
“Welcome to the jungle”
The welcome was not quite so hospitable from the New Zealand Herald, whose front page roared: “Welcome to the jungle.”
However, the back page editorial added that head coach Warren Gatland’s “Waikato nous” means the Lions will be more savvy and stoic than the 2005 “pussycats”.
Gatland, meanwhile, has urged the Lions not to dwell on a schedule labelled “suicidal” by former All Blacks boss Graham Henry.
Read ‘confident’ of fitness
While the Lions face up to a tour without talismanic number eight Billy Vunipola, All Blacks skipper Kieran Read says he is “confident” he will be fit for the first Test despite struggling with a fractured thumb.
In a BBC interview, number eight Read says he is “honoured” to be leading his country in a “special” series, and believes his players will thrive under the pressure of an expectant Kiwi nation.
All Blacks channelling spirit of 1904
New Zealand launched their bespoke shirt for the Lions series in downtown Auckland on Wednesday morning, with the year 1904 etched above the silver fern.
This is a reference to the date the All Blacks were officially established, and the first time the Lions toured New Zealand. Naturally, the All Blacks won.