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Hansen releases All Blacks for start of Lions Tour

Steve Hansen

The British & Irish Lions will get an early look at some of their All Black opponents after Steve Hansen confirmed a number of them will be available for their Super Rugby sides at the start of the 2017 Tour.

"It will be a special occasion for the players and for the club" 

The British & Irish Lions will get an early look at some of their All Black opponents after Steve Hansen confirmed a number of them will be available for their Super Rugby sides at the start of the 2017 Tour.

Warren Gatland’s Lions will take on all five Kiwi franchises this summer during their six-week trip to New Zealand.

After opening up against a New Zealand Provincial Union XV on June 3, the Lions will then face the Blues and the Crusaders in quick succession at the start of the Tour.

And both sides are likely to include a number of familiar All Black faces including Sonny Bill Williams and skipper Kieran Read – before they are then called into camp by Hansen. 

"That's all been sorted," Hansen told Stuff.co.nz.

"The first two Super Rugby games before we assemble, they'll all be available. After that they'll be with us."

The Blues are the first Super Rugby side to get a crack at the Lions and their head coach Tana Umaga – who captained New Zealand against the Lions back in 2005 – cannot wait.

"Certainly as the first Super Rugby team to play the Lions, we are delighted the All Blacks will be available for selection," Umaga said.

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"It will be a special occasion for the players and for the club and we would respect that by putting out our best team available."

And Crusaders supremo Scott Robertson – who is in his first year at the helm after taking over from Todd Blackadder – is similary excited.

"It's hugely significant for our region, the Crusaders and the people of Christchurch after what we've been through and not being able to host a Test match it's our equivalent," Robertson said.

"To have the All Blacks playing on top it's going to be a pretty special evening. It's history making.

"They've got a bit of time off afterwards to get themselves right for that first test match and it comes in our bye so there's a lot of things going for us. As a whole group it's something to look forward to."
 

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