You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Strong Blues and Crusaders to face Lions

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 18/12/2016 Daniel Gilhooly
Ihaia West of the Blues is tackled during the round 17 Super Rugby match between the Blues and the Waratahs at Eden Park on July 15, 2016 in Auckland, New Zealand. © Phil Walter/ Getty Images Ihaia West of the Blues is tackled during the round 17 Super Rugby match between the Blues and the Waratahs at Eden Park on July 15, 2016 in Auckland, New Zealand.

The Blues and Crusaders will be at full strength when they host the touring British and Irish Lions on next year's tour of New Zealand.

The Lions will face all five Kiwi Super Rugby teams in a daunting schedule but New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew says the last three such fixtures will be against weakened sides as they fall too close to the Test series.

Following an opening tour match against the New Zealand Barbarians on June 3, the Lions face the Blues and Crusaders, who will have access to their Test players.

A game against the Highlanders on June 13 falls just three days after the Crusaders but the southerners are unlikely to have access to the likes of Test stars Ben Smith, Waisake Naholo, Malakai Fekitoa and Aaron Smith.

"We'll have the All Blacks available for those first two games but after that they'll be in camp with us and the other three sides will field teams without their All Blacks," Tew said.

Tew says there could be some exceptions, with All Blacks management likely to monitor the workload of the leading players throughout Super Rugby.

Meanwhile, Tew says all indications are that the 10-match tour will be completely sold out.

The initial ballot process had been "magnificently over-subscribed", he said.

There is no doubt the three Tests will be full houses while sales are strong elsewhere.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon