George North excited by potential of Lions squad to tour New Zealand

British and Irish Lions squad announced for NZ tour opener

George North excited by potential of Lions squad to tour New Zealand

Tour captain Sam Warburton accepted the challenge on behalf of his team during the "powhiri" (welcome), which included a performance of the All Blacks' traditional "Ka Mate" haka.

More than 20,000 fans are expected to accompany the Lions on their 10-match tour which kicks off Saturday against a Provincial Barbarians selection at Whangarei, north of Auckland.

The begin their 13th rugby tour of New Zealand, facing possibly their toughest schedule as they attempt to achieve only their second test series victory over the All Blacks 47 years after the first.

The first British & Irish Lions team for the summer tour of New Zealand has been announced.

"I don't recall the score (a 49-25 Lions" win, thanks Google) but I have vivid memories of that day - not least because all schools had closed at lunchtime so we could go to the game.

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Everything is stacked against the Lions and the first Test is absolutely huge - if they win that one, it is game on. If the All Blacks can find a way of shipping the ball wide, they will be good and play with their flair.

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Here was first evidence of the work of the Lions choir: get to Auckland airport, deliver your first rendition of the Welsh hymn, Calon Lân.

North arrived in Auckland with the Lions on Wednesday, but his involvement in pre-tour planning was limited by the participation of his club side, Northampton Saints, in the European Champions Cup play-offs.

"It's all about winning the test series.So if we drop a game or two on the way, as we're looking at combinations or trying things out, it's not going to be the end of the world".

"A huge congratulations to Thames Rugby who are hosting the event and bringing some very well known sporting heroes to our neck of the woods", says Thames-Coromandel District Mayor Sandra Goudie, who will also be attending the night. When the first game gets underway on Saturday, they start coming thick and fast.

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"That's what frustrated me four years ago", said Warburton.

The Lions were forced to restore a host of amateur-era approaches after that All Blacks series hammering, and head to New Zealand this time off the back of a winning trip to Australia in 2013.

"And if you look at the fact how well the New Zealand Super Rugby sides are playing, it shows exactly where they are and the quality of players they've got". I was the last guy in that squad to play.

On a chilly Wednesday in June they played Taranaki at New Plymouth's Rugby Park.

"We've had some decent frost down here this morning and another couple of weeks it's going to get harder", he said.

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