News Irish News

Sunday 20 October 2019

The Lions have landed

Grainne Cunningham

The British and Irish Lions have touched down in Hong Kong as they prepare to kick-off the most eagerly anticipated Tour in decades.

As the squad left their hotel in London's Kensington district for their departure to Hong Kong, their appearance was a far cry from the blood, mud and sweat of the playing pitch.

Instead, they were a picture of sartorial elegance in dapper navy blazers bearing the team crest, grey trousers, brown lace-up brogues, crisp white shirts and red and gold silk ties.

The outfits were designed for the squad's tour of Hong Kong and Australia by Thomas Pink, whose tailors had to accommodate the team's exceptional build, including making a shirt to fit the 51.5-inch chest of Welsh star Adam Jones. Suitable attire also had to be located for Ulster hooker Rory Best, who only 48 hours ago was not even in the squad.

After the gruelling 12 hour flight from London, a lot of the players were looking jaded now sporting their official Lions tracksuits at Hong Kong International airport.

The Lions tour manager Andy Irvine spoke of the relief of the players that their Lions journey was about to begin

"The lads are just delighted," he told Sky Sports.

"They have been in the training camp for the past couple of weeks and this is the real thing. We have now arrived on foreign soil. Obviously it is a bit warm for them but we will take that in our stride.

"It is the first time the Lions have played in Hong Kong or in Asia, so we are thrilled are getting the opportunity to show the locals what we can do against the Barbarians, too. It is a big game for us. It is two iconic sides so it should be a tremendous contest."

Although the main focus of the tour will be on the three-Test series against the Wallabies, Irvine says the Lions are determined to get off to a flying start.

"It is really important, you never want to start the tour with a loss," said Irvine.

"The boys will be really up for it, make no mistake. People saw it is a warm up game, an exhibition game, but it is far from that. It is the real thing."

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News