Riki Flutey will become the first New Zealand-born player for 101 years to feature in a British & Irish Lions Test team when he makes his debut against the Springboks at Coca Cola Park on Saturday.
You have to go back to 1908 to find the last Kiwi playing for the Lions. Pat McEvedy played five Tests on two tours with the Lions to Australia and New Zealand. Four years earlier, McEvedy was joined by Arthur O’Brien among five players from Guy’s Hopsital who toured down under.
McEvedy, who was born in Taumutu, eventually returned to his native New Zealand and went on to become president of both the Wellington Union and the New Zealand Rugby Union.
O’Brien, who was born in Westport, also became a Test player against the country in which he was born. He doubled as tour manager in 1904 and played in 17 games and four Tests on the trip.
McEvedy’s Lions record was even more impressive as he played in 31 games on the two tours and five out of seven Tests.
Flutey, who played against the Lions in 2005 as a replacement for Wellington, was born in Wairarapa and became only the second player to play for and against the British & Irish tourists when he made his tour debut for the 2009 Lions against the Royal XV in the opening fixture.
The only other player to do that is Irishman Tom Reid, who was a test player in South Africa in 1955 and then played against the 1959 Lions for Eastern Canada.