Lions call up Welsh reinforcements

Coach Warren Gatland has called up four players to the British & Irish Lions squad as injury replacements ahead of the Test series against the All Blacks.

Wales quartet Cory Hill, Kristian Dacey, Gareth Davies and Tomas Francis will link up with the rest of the Lions squad on Saturday afternoon following their Test against Tonga in Auckland on Friday.

They will all go straight on the bench in the side selected to play the Chiefs on Tuesday as Gatland seeks to protect his 23-man Test squad.

Gatland confirmed he had drafted in the Welsh players because of their close proximity.

‘We have said all along that we need to give ourselves the best chance of winning the Test series and that could potentially involve calling up players,’ said Gatland.

‘Bringing in these players from an identical time zone, who can hit the ground running and step straight in rather than having to adjust following long-haul travel will help us manage players before the first Test, give us quality training numbers to prepare properly, as well as offering us options for selection for the Chiefs match.

‘These are players currently on international duty who we are looking forward to welcoming into the tour party, as we did with several players in 2013,’ added Gatland.

‘I spoke to all the home union coaches prior to departure and explained our thinking and they were all supportive.'

However, England coach Eddie Jones slammed Gatland's decision.

'It’s only a 13-hour trip from [Argentina] to New Zealand,' Jones told the BBC. 'The [England] boys could be there. The Lions is a prestigious team – when you become a Lion, you’re remembered for life. I would like to see it picked on merit rather than geographical proximity.'

Meanwhile, Ross Moriarty has been ruled out of the remainder of the Lions tour with a back injury. The flanker sustained a nerve injury in his back in the opening match of the tour against the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians and has failed to recover.

There is also an injury concern surrounding flyhalf Owen Farrell, who is believed to be nursing a grade-one quad strain. 

Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

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