Monday 11 December 2017

All Blacks praise

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen. Photo: PA
New Zealand coach Steve Hansen. Photo: PA

Independent.ie Sportdesk

New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen has described the Lions Test series as a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" for his players.

Hansen has recalled fit-again captain Kieran Read and centre Ryan Crotty for Saturday's first Test at Eden Park, while in a surprise move he has replaced experienced wing Julian Savea with 20-year-old Rieko Ioane.

Crusaders No 8 Read last played more than seven weeks ago, when he suffered a broken thumb while on Super Rugby duty. But he is now fit to pack down in the All Blacks' back-row alongside Jerome Kaino and Sam Cane.

"There is a real understanding that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Hansen said.

"The players are well aware of the history of the All Blacks and the Lions and are determined to respect that history with their performances.

"We know this is a very good British and Irish Lions team - probably one of the best to have toured here."

Irish Independent

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