17 Jun 2017

Lions bring in additional players

7:02 pm on 17 June 2017

Wales loose forward Ross Moriarty has been ruled out of the British and Irish Lions' tour of New Zealand just hours after coach Warren Gatland called in four additional players for the business end of the tour.

British and Lions coach Warren Gatland looks on during the match against the Auckland Blues.

British and Lions coach Warren Gatland. Photo: AFP

Moriarty had been suffering from what the Lions said was nerve damage and was restricted to just one appearance on the tour during the 13-7 victory over the Provincial Barbarians in the opening match.

"We are really disappointed for Ross," Gatland said in a statement. "He has had a hugely impressive season, capped off with selection for the British & Irish Lions and his performance in the first match justified that selection.

"It is disappointing to see injury cut short his tour but we wish him all the best with his recovery."

Gatland had earlier called lock Cory Hill, hooker Kristian Dacey, halfback Gareth Davies and prop Tomas Francis, who were in New Zealand on duty with Wales.

The quartet joined up with the Lions in Rotorua ahead of their tour match against the Maori All Blacks.

Wales were in action in Auckland last night, beating Tonga 24-7, and Lions coach Gatland said it made sense to bring in players who would not need time to acclimatise.

"We have said all along that we need to give ourselves the best chance of winning the test series and that could potentially involve calling up players," he said in an earlier statement.

"Bringing in these players from an identical time zone, who can hit the ground running and step straight in rather than having to adjust following long-haul travel, will help us manage players before the first Test, give us quality training numbers to prepare properly as well as offering us options for selection for the Chiefs match."

Gatland said that other players would be added to the squad once the four home unions had completed their weekend tests.

Scotland play Australia in Sydney and Ireland face Japan later today. England are on tour in Argentina.

With the additions, Gatland will now be able to run two separate teams, with the new players likely to feature in the 'midweek' squad against the Chiefs on Tuesday and Hurricanes the following week.

Gatland had said previously that he did not want to split the squad because it had caused resentment in previous tours.

The Lions side that takes on the Maori All Blacks is also likely to run out for the first Test on 24 June.

- Reuters