The Lions hit the road with 12 community visits
The 2017 British & Irish Lions visited 12 different sites in the North Auckland community on Friday afternoon.
“The kids enjoyed it and we were able to give them Lions kit and gear and a few toys.”
All 41 players – split up into groups of three or four with nationalities intermingled – set off from QBE Stadium at the same time after the Captain’s Run.
The Lions visited seven schools, three hospitals and two retirement villages on their way to Whangarei for tomorrow’s Tour opener.
At each community visit the players met, mingled and exchanged gifts with the locals.
First up were Dan Cole, Jonathan Davies and CJ Stander who went to Northcross Intermediate School not far from QBE Stadium.
There they were greeted by students aged 11-13 who bombarded them with questions and showered them with gifts and Kiwiana – icons from New Zealand’s heritage.
— Waitemata DHB (@WaitemataDHB) June 2, 2017
Davies, Cole and Stander also handed out Lions gifts and the Ireland back-row forward loved every minute of it.
“The kids enjoyed it and we were able to give them Lions kit and gear and a few toys,” he said.
“It was a good experience and we all enjoyed it.”
Davies added: “It was a great welcome by all the staff and kids and we got some really nice gifts given to us. They had some great questions for us as well so it was a good old trip.”
Meanwhile James Haskell, Jack Nowell and Sean O’Brien were being greeted by a haka at Whangarei Boys High School by the school’s first XV.
After that the trio fielded questions before signing autographs and posing for photos with the kids.
Liam Williams, Jack McGrath and George North were at Rangitoto College as all players in the non-match 23 for Saturday’s game spent time in the local community while also collecting souvenirs for the team room.
It was not just schools however, as hospitals were also on the agenda – Robbie Henshaw, Maro Itoje and Ken Owens arriving at Waitakere Hospital to brighten the patients’ day.
Courtney Lawes, Conor Murray and Jared Payne went to Waitekere Retirement Village to pay their respects to the elderly community in the country while Leigh Halfpenny, Peter O’Mahony and Dan Biggar were at Mayfair Retirement Village handing out gifts and meeting the locals.
Members of the match 23 were also charged with finding souvenirs for the Lions team room and Joe Marler, Justin Tipuric and Iain Henderson were at Kamo High School.
Alun Wyn Jones, Jonathan Joseph and Rory Best were at Kristin School while Jamie George, Tommy Seymour and Tadgh Furlong were at Mahurangi College.
Skipper Sam Warburton was joined by Ben Te’o and Kyle Sinckler at Whangarei Hospital while Taulupe Faletau, Anthony Watson and Ross Moriarty were at Kensington Hospital.
Mako Vunipola, George Kruis, Elliot Daly and Rhys Webb handed out their gifts and answering questions at Orewa College.