Lions rugby sortie at Phoenix A-League training

An international rugby sortie, led by British and Irish Lions rugby coach Warren Gatland has livened up a Wellington A-League training session.

Gatland led a team of around a dozen officials on a reconnaissance mission on Friday to check out Westpac Stadium, one of seven venues to host the Lions in their 10-match, three-Test tour which begins on June 3.

The Lions’ mission provided a brief distraction for the Phoenix as they prepared for Saturday’s must-win clash with Central Coast.

Co-coach Des Buckingham’s tongue-in-cheek hopes of scoring some match tickets, however, proved futile.

“I’ve tried getting tickets myself but I’m struggling,” he said.

“I’ve got plenty of friends and family back home that are coming out and, for some reason, think I’ll be able to sort them tickets, but I’m struggling myself.”

A Lions media spokesman said the 10-day reconnaissance trip began last Saturday in Auckland, and would conclude with trips to Christchurch and Dunedin.

It provided a range of team officials, headed by Gatland and director of operations Gerard Carmody, the chance to check out every aspect of the tour including game venues, hotels, training grounds and gyms.

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