British and Irish Lions call up Welsh reinforcements


Rotorua (New Zealand) (AFP)

The British and Irish Lions called up four Welsh players to bolster their squad on Saturday and said more reinforcements were likely.

Cory Hill, Kristian Dacey, Gareth Davies and Tomas Francis, who all played in Wales' victory over Tonga in Auckland on Friday, got the call.

Coach Warren Gatland arrived with a squad of 41 and he has already lost injured fullback Stuart Hogg. As of Saturday, the Lions are playing three tour games plus three Tests over the next three weeks.

"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," Gatland said as he announced the additional players, just hours before his shadow Test line-up face the Maori All Blacks in Rotorua.

"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 (and) give us quality training numbers to prepare properly."

Gatland said there will be further call-ups after the other Tests this weekend.

Earlier England coach Eddie Jones, who is leading his team on a tour of Argentina, urged Gatland to choose his reinforcements on merit rather than location.

Wales are already in New Zealand, Scotland are in Australia and Ireland are embarking on a two-Test tour of Japan.

"The Lions is a prestigious team -- when you become a Lion, you're remembered for life," Jones told BBC Radio 5 live.

"My only comment would be I would like to see it picked on merit rather than geographical proximity."

He added: "It's only a 13-hour trip from here to New Zealand."