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British & Lions full squad stats

The Lions have arrived in New Zealand ready to battle the All Blacks

The 41-man Lions squad that traveled to Auckland is one of the biggest Lions parties ever, with four more players than the New Zealand Lions boss Gatland had initially planned, resulting in an additional cost of over £600,000 invested on the road to rugby glory. The British & Irish Lions full squad arrived in New Zealand in the wee small hours early on Tuesday after traveling 50,000 kilometres with 10 games, 6 weeks, 7 cities, 7 stadiums, 9 hotels, 41 players, 36 management, 6 internal flights, 2 Lions branded 51-seater coaches, 7 branded Land Rovers, 20 tons of luggage and equipment, 600 items of luggage, 150 balls, 24 tackle bags. 2250 rolls of medical tape, and 100 refillable water bottles to deal with in the weeks ahead.

The British and Irish Lions plan on achieving a dream they've realized just once before the tour series victory in New Zealand. With four weeks and six games until the first Test against the mighty New Zealand All Blacks, Lion’s manager Warren Gatland will have little time to fine-tune his tactics and get his players ready to take on the current Rugby World Cup champions. The Lions current squad is far different from the one which achieved a dramatic 2-1 series win in Australia four years ago. The Lions have a total of only 35 previous British & Irish Lions caps across the entire roster.

Gatland picked his players to take on the All Blacks to include a good mixture of youthful rugby players along with experienced talent. Newcomer Maro Itoje was chosen to compete alongside Lions vets including Rory Best and Alun Wyn Jones, with over 100 caps for Ireland and Wales respectively. Choosing the current Lions squad involved controversy. Gatland picked 16 members of England's triumphant Six Nations team, but received criticism for omitting Wasps lock Joe Launchbury, and instead choosing Maro Itoje, George Kruis, and Courtney Lawes instead. The Wales head coach also raised eyebrows in his decision to draft in 12 players from his own team, resulting in only three members of the impressive Scotland Six Nations squad. However, the squad Gatland selected to take on the All Blacks is powerful. Former England No.8 Nick Easter remarked that the squad is "strongest Lions squad that has ever been assembled."

The British & Lions’ training sessions to prepare to face the All Blacks experienced some setbacks, and coach Gatland has been forced to make some changes to his squad. Scotland's Greig Laidlaw was drafted into the squad after England scrum-half Ben Youngs withdrew due to family illness. Then last week, Billy Vunipola was injured leading to a first Lions call-up for Wasps back-rower James Haskell.

British & Irish Lions 2017 full squad

Here are stats on the full squad for the Lions New Zealand 2017 tour that have arrived in Auckland for pre-tournament training.

BACKS

STUART HOGG (Scotland)
Age: 24, Position: Full-back, Caps: 53
Noteworthy: Attacking catalyst

LEIGH HALFPENNY (Wales)
Age: 28, Position: Full-back, Caps: 71
Noteworthy: Goalkicking ace, the hero of 2013 tour.

JARED PAYNE (Ireland)
Age: 31, Position: Full-back, Caps: 20
Noteworthy: New Zealand-born back

ANTHONY WATSON (England)
Age: 23, Position: Wing/full-back, Caps: 26
Noteworthy: Lethal finisher.

ELLIOT DALY (England)
Age: 24, Position: Wing/Centre, Caps: 13
Noteworthy: Fast

GEORGE NORTH (Wales)
Age: 25, Position: Wing, Caps: 69
Noteworthy: Powerful wing with top Lions pedigree.

LIAM WILLIAMS (Wales)
Age: 26, Position: Wing/Fullback, Caps: 43
Noteworthy: Lions' form wing.

JACK NOWELL (England)
Age: 24, Position: Wing, Caps: 23
Noteworthy: Fast and aggressive

TOMMY SEYMOUR (Scotland)
Age: 28, Position: Wing, Caps: 36
Noteworthy: Glasgow star.

ROBBIE HENSHAW (Ireland)
Age: 23, Position: Centre, Caps: 29
Noteworthy: Powerful carrier

JONATHAN JOSEPH (England)
Age: 26, Position: Centre/Wing, Caps: 33
Noteworthy: Fast

JONATHAN DAVIES (Wales)
Age: 29, Position: Centre, Caps: 64
Noteworthy: Muscular outside center

BEN TE'O (England)
Age: 30, Position: Centre, Caps: 8
Noteworthy: Strong carrier

OWEN FARRELL (England)
Age: 25, Position: Centre/fly-half, Caps: 52
Noteworthy: World-class playmaker and goalkicker

JONATHAN SEXTON (Ireland)
Age: 31, Position: Fly-half, Caps: 66
Noteworthy: Brave, skillful and bright.

DAN BIGGAR (Wales)
Age: 27, Position: Fly-half, Caps: 56
Noteworthy: A fierce competitor.

GREIG LAIDLAW (Scotland)
Age: 31, Position: Scrum-half, Caps: 58
Noteworthy: Scotland skipper replacing Ben Youngs.

CONOR MURRAY (Ireland)
Age: 28, Position: Scrum-half, Caps: 57
Noteworthy: Outstanding half-back

RHYS WEBB (Wales)
Age: 28, Position: Scrum-half, Caps: 28
Noteworthy: Six Nations star

FORWARDS

MAKO VUNIPOLA (England)
Age: 26, Position: Prop, Caps: 42
Noteworthy: Outstanding all-around forward.

JACK McGRATH (Ireland)
Age: 27, Position: Prop, Caps: 41
Noteworthy: Key player from Ireland

JOE MARLER (England)
Age: 26, Position: Prop, Caps: 51
Noteworthy: Some disciplinary issues in the past

DAN COLE (England)
Age: 30, Position: Prop, Caps: 74
Noteworthy: Competed in all three Tests on the last Lions tour

TADHG FURLONG (Ireland)
Age: 24, Position: Prop, Caps: 16
Noteworthy: One of Ireland's world-class scrummager

KYLE SINCKLER (England)
Age: 24, Position: Prop, Caps: 8
Noteworthy: England's tighthead understudy to Cole

RORY BEST (Ireland)
Age: 34, Position: Hooker, Caps: 104
Noteworthy: Led Ireland to a famous victory over New Zealand

KEN OWENS (Wales)
Age: 30, Position: Hooker, Caps: 50
Noteworthy: Wales consistent performer.

JAMIE GEORGE (England)
Age: 26, Position: Hooker, Caps: 17
Noteworthy: England's back-up to Dylan Hartley.

ALUN WYN JONES (Wales)
Age: 31, Position: Lock, Caps: 110
Noteworthy: Captained Lions to a Test series-clinching win in Australia four years ago.

MARO ITOJE (England)
Age: 22, Position: Lock, Caps: 12
Noteworthy: 2016 European player of the year.

COURTNEY LAWES (England)
Age: 28, Position: Lock, Caps: 58
Noteworthy: Tough, skillful England player.

GEORGE KRUIS (England)
Age: 27, Position: Lock, Caps: 20
Noteworthy: Return from injury.

IAIN HENDERSON (Ireland)
Age: 25, Position: Lock, Caps: 32
Noteworthy: Tough competitor.

CJ STANDER (Ireland)
Age: 27, Position: Flanker, Caps: 15
Noteworthy: South Africa-born forward who qualified for Ireland.

PETER O'MAHONY (Ireland)
Age: 27, Position: Flanker, Caps: 40
Noteworthy: Fearless performer.

SEAN O'BRIEN (Ireland)
Age: 30, Position: Flanker, Caps: 49
Noteworthy: Leinster forward in peak form.

SAM WARBURTON (Wales)
Age: 28, Position: Flanker, Caps: 74
Noteworthy: Lions captain who led the 2013 tour win in Australia.

JUSTIN TIPURIC (Wales)
Age: 27, Position: Flanker, Caps: 51
Noteworthy: Highly-skilled and effective.

JAMES HASKELL (England)
Age: 32, Position: Flanker, Caps: 75
Noteworthy: Lions call after Billy Vunipola's injury.

ROSS MORIARTY (Wales)
Age: 23, Position: Flanker/number eight, Caps: 17
Noteworthy: Talented rookie.

TAULUPE FALETAU (Wales)
Age: 26, Position: Number eight, Caps: 66
Noteworthy: Brilliant ball-carrier and back-row player

Warren Gatland went into his British & Irish Lions job interview thinking, “I don’t think I can lose. Being offered it would be fantastic, a great honor, and if they didn’t offer it to me I could say, ‘Thank God, I’ve just dodged a bullet. That’s how tough it is.” New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen spoke some critical comments about the British and Irish Lions’ tight schedule, saying he thought the majority of the touring party should have flown to New Zealand last week. Instead, Warren Gatland’s 41-man squad left Heathrow on Monday and landed in Auckland on Tuesday, only three days before they play their opening match against Provincial Barbarians XV in the opening clash of the 10-game British & Irish Lions tour series. Hansen believes the Lions have insufficient time to train and stated that his All Blacks side would never have agreed to a schedule where they arrived in a country any less than a week before their first match.

“You’d want to be there a week at the minimum,” Hansen, told The Times. “It’s nicer to be longer than that. When we tour we have total control over when we leave the country,” said Hansen. Gatland had just 14 players available to him for the first week of training but 30 were in camp in Ireland last week, with the remainder of the squad joining up this weekend ahead of Sunday’s farewell dinner before leaving on the tour. Some of the Lions squad from Saracens and Leinster were available to join up with the squad earlier than expected after being eliminated in the semi-finals of their league play-offs. “If most of them are not playing, what’s stopping them getting on a plane now with most of the squad, for example,” continued Hansen. “That’s the option you’ve got. The option you’ve got is for the sake of the team, we’ll get over there and we’ll see you when you get here. Because what they are asking them to do is pretty difficult - get here Wednesday, play Saturday.”

The Lions first played New Zealand in 1904, however it was not until 1930 that the Lions recorded a victory over New Zealand. The Lions’ only Test series triumph to date against New Zealand was in 1971, when they claimed the series 2-1 with one game drawn. The Lions have suffered five Test series whitewashes in New Zealand, the last of those being 11 years ago. The Lions’ last victory against New Zealand came on the 1993 tour in Wellington. The Lions’ overall record against New Zealand shows six victories, three draws and 29 defeats. A 10-game schedule for the Lions New Zealand tour will see the them play at 7 different venues around New Zealand - Whangarei, Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Rotorua, Hamilton and Wellington. Auckland’s Eden Park - venue for the 2011 Rugby World Cup final - will stage two of the three Lions Tests. Buy 2017 British & Irish Lions tickets to watch the exciting battles as the top rugby players in the world go head to head in New Zealand! Great, legal, guaranteed Lions rugby tickets for the tournament down under are still for sale online securely from LiveRugbyTickets.co.uk!

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