British and Irish Lions: Warren Gatland may call up five more players to bolster squad ahead of first Test

Joe Hall
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Gatland wants to protect the Test 23 (Source: Getty)

At least five new players are set to be called upon by Warren Gatland to join his British and Irish Lions squad in New Zealand.

With just over a week to go before the Lions' first Test against the All Blacks, Gatland wants to bolster his squad to ensure players don't have to play twice in a week ahead of the crucial fixture.

Before the Lions play the All Blacks in Auckland next Saturday, they face the Maori All Blacks in Rotorua tomorrow and the Chiefs in Waikato on Tuesday.

Read more: Look away Lions - the All Blacks just blitzed 12 tries past Samoa

While the Lions have been hit by injuries — most notably to Stuart Hogg who was forced to leave the tour with an eye injury and Owen Farrell who may miss the first Test due to a quadriceps strain — the call-ups are believed to have long been part of Gatland's strategy.

The New Zealander floated the idea when he was first unveiled as head coach last year, saying: "The hardest game is the Chiefs game before the first Test. How do you protect that Test 23? There is potentially an opportunity to bring in four or five to maybe sit on the bench."

Gatland may first turn to players in the Wales and Scotland squads currently touring in Australasia before looking to Eddie Jones' England squad who are competing in a different time zone in Argentina.

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