New Zealand players allowed to play against the Lions in club matches

The All Blacks stars could face the Lions before the three-test series

BY Daniel Kelly 14:32 Tuesday 6 September 2016, 14:32 6 Sep 2016

Kieran Read leads the All Blacks during the Haka Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Photosport

The British and Irish Lions have not won a test series in New Zealand since 1971.

Next summer, the team return to the home of the World Champions, and reports from New Zealand state that the ten-match tour which includes three test-matches might be about to become tougher.

Recent tradition in the professional age has seen the New Zealand, Australia and South Africa internationals not feature on the tour until the test series. The New Zealand Herald have reported that the New Zealand Rugby Union will allow their stars compete for their club teams in the tour matches against the Lions.

The Lions last played in New Zealand in 2005. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Three of the first four tour matches for the team are against three of New Zealand's Super Rugby sides. The Blues, Crusaders and Highlanders look set to be at full strength. The games against the Chiefs and Hurricanes take place only days before the first and second tests, meaning those provincial teams will be weakened.

"The Super Rugby sides will be loaded up with All Blacks early because there's a bit of time from game one to the first test and they need to play and then as we get closer to the test some of those franchises will have less access to the All Blacks as we start preparing for it", New Zealand selector Grant Fox admitted.

The Lions have not won a test match in New Zealand since 1993, and have lost nine of their last ten matches against the All Blacks. In 2005, the last time the touring side played in New Zealand, the Lions lost the series 3-0.

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