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Maori welcome greets Lions in Auckland

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 30/05/2017

The British and Irish Lions have arrived in Auckland to a Maori welcome followed by a rapturous reception from travelling supporters.

Coach Warren Gatland, his 41 players and phalanx of support staff touched down at Auckland Airport shortly after midday on Wednesday.

Captain Sam Warburton accepted the wero, or challenge, and manager John Spencer spoke before the Lions responded to the powhiri with a Welsh hymn.

The 10-match tour begins against a provincial selection in Whangarei on Saturday and gets considerably harder from there, ending with the third and final Test back in Auckland on July 8.

Most are anticipating the series won't be alive by then, tipping the world champion All Blacks to continue a winning streak at home which stretches back 45 Tests.

The Lions faithful will believe they have the team to counter another historic hurdle.

Gatland's men are aiming to be just the second to taste a series success on New Zealand soil in 12 attempts.

To match the deeds of the famed 1971 side, they'll need a lot to go right and to, somehow, avoid injury and fatigue.

Hard on the heels of another long European season, the players must negotiate games against all five powerhouse Kiwi Super Rugby teams, as well as an unofficial "fourth Test" against the Maori All Blacks.

Success would surely represent the Lions' greatest achievement.

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