By Mark Stevens
Exeter Chiefs prop Tomas Francis is among a handful of reinforcements that have been added to the British & Irish Lions squad ahead of next weekend’s first test against New Zealand.
The 25-year-old tight-head, who featured for Wales in their 24-6 win over Tonga on Friday, has been called into the touring party alongside fellow Welshmen Cory Hill, Kristian Dacey and Gareth Davies.
Lions head coach Warren Gatland has also summoned the Scotland duo of Finn Russell and Allan Dell to take his squad to 46 with only five matches remaining after today’s clash with the New Zealand Maori.
Francis will join a Lions party that not only includes a great number of his Welsh team-mates, but also club-mate Jack Nowell, who has featured twice for the Lions against the Blues and the Highlanders.
Explaining the call-ups, Gatland said: “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.
“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.
“(It will) give us quality training numbers to prepare properly as well as offering us options for selection for the Chiefs match.”