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Video: Lions train in Auckland ahead of opening match

The 2017 British & Irish Lions have hit the QBE Stadium turf in Auckland for training, as preparations for the first clash of the Tour of New Zealand hit fever pitch.

Warren Gatland’s charges will take on the NZ Provincial Barbarians on Saturday at Toll Stadium, their first challenge of a ten-match Tour that includes three Tests against the All Blacks.

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Sam Warburton will lead the side in Whangarei, after it was confirmed he would start the match against the Barbarians when Gatland’s squad was announced yesterday.

While most of the players who featured in domestic semi-finals and finals have been given the chance for some extra rest this weekend, everyone in the squad reported for duty at QBE Stadium to get put through their paces.

It was just the thorough workout required to get used to the conditions in New Zealand, with Jonathan Sexton and Owen Farrell also getting some vital kicking practise in from all around the ground.

This won’t be the first time the curtain has been brought up on a Lions tour in Whangarei, as North Auckland were defeated 30-17 in the opening match in 1993 in what was the tourists’ most recent visit to the city.

Click here for all the best images from the arrival on Wednesday

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Indeed the Lions have never lost at the venue, with both the 1966 and 1971 sides successful at Toll Stadium, and that is not a record Warburton and co will be keen to surrender.

For the hosts it is undeniably the biggest match in their 80-year history, but with many set to get their first ever run out in the famous red jersey, the new Lions also have much to play for.

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