British and Irish Lions receive intimidating Haka welcome as they touch down in New Zealand
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British and Irish Lions receive intimidating Haka welcome as they touch down in New Zealand

THE British and Irish Lions were given a ferocious greeting in Auckland after they touched down to take on the mighty All Blacks.

Warren Gatland and his 41 strong squad received a tradition ‘Powhiri’ welcoming ceremony, consisting of an intimidating Haka and a Hongi – the traditional Maori greeting in which noses are pressed together.

The Lions players, kitted out in formal suits and red ties, responded with a song of their own – the Welsh hymn ‘Calon Lan’.

A tweet from the team's Twitter official account read: 'What a fabulous welcome as we set foot on New Zealand soil for the first time ahead of #LionsNZ2017 #AllForOne.’

Lions manager Warren Gatland grew up nearby in Hamilton, having played 140 times for New Zealand side Waikato. He has managed Wales since 2007.

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“It's been part of my job over the past few weeks just prepping the guys about what to expect culturally when you arrive in New Zealand,” he told the assembled media at the airport.

“I know from experience in 2011 (as Wales coach at the World Cup) that a lot of teams arrived here very much unprepared for what was going to happen.”

The first of 10 Tests takes place this Saturday against a New Zealand Barbarians side in Whangarei in the North Island.

There are a further five warm-up matches to be played before the first Test against the All Blacks on June 24 at Auckland's Eden Park.

The Lions then travel to the capital of Wellington for a tour match against the Hurricanes before the second Test on July 1 in the same city.

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The tour then culminates at Eden Park for the final Test match on July 8.

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