The British and Irish Lions have called up Wales quartet Kristian Dacey, Cory Hill, Tomas Francis and Gareth Davies to add cover during ahead of the first Test against New Zealand next week.
Lions head coach Warren Gatland has opted for players from Wales and Scotland due to the close proximity of their matches to New Zealand – the former are in New Zealand while the latter are in Australia. England players are likely to miss out as they are in Argentina but Ireland players are a possibility as they are in Japan.
A further announcement is expected this weekend with Scotland duo Allan Dell and Finn Russell due to fly in to join the squad.
“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,” explained Gatland.
“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, give us quality training numbers to prepare properly as well as offering us options for selection for the Chiefs match.”
All Blacks boss Steve Hansen predicted the Lions’ call-ups on Thursday.
The Lions have been accused of favouring geographical proximity above meritocracy for their impending additions.
But they are understood to have told their initial 41-man squad at their “messy Monday” admin day in May that they planned to bring in mid-tour reinforcements to safeguard the Test line-up against injury.
Gatland added: “These are players currently on international duty who we are looking forward to welcoming into the Tour party as we did with several players in 2013.
“I spoke to all the home union coaches prior to departure and explained our thinking and they were all supportive.”