Lions tour: The Lions, a reality show to rival The Bachelor

Lions coach Warren Gatland.
GETTY IMAGES

Lions coach Warren Gatland.

There's a new reality show to rival The Bachelor. It's called The Lions.

In it 40-plus muscular rugby players tour exotic New Zealand destinations where they leap high, run fast and tackle hard in a bid to catch the eye of coach Warren Gatland

If Gatland likes what he sees they get handed a red test jersey. At the moment he's holding a tray of them, pondering who he will chose for the first test, in Auckland on Saturday.

Coach Warren Gatland checks out his talent.
DAVID ROGERS/GETTY IMAGES

Coach Warren Gatland checks out his talent.

So his red-clad Lionrettes have just one more chance to win his heart, at the cocktail party against the Chiefs in Hamilton on Tuesday.

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But here's the twist; we've just hit the episode where a new group of Bachelorettes entered the show.

Gatland has called up four players from Wales and two from Scotland as reinforcements, and they're all on the bench for the Chiefs.

Adding to the intrigue, in echoes of host Dom Bowden on The Bachelotte Gatland could be said to have 'dated' some of the newcomers, when he coached Wales.

On The Bachelor it's a red rose, on The Lions it's a red test jersey.
Matt Klitscher

On The Bachelor it's a red rose, on The Lions it's a red test jersey.

Gareth Davies, Cory Hill, Kristian Dacey and Tomas Francis were already in New Zealand with the Welsh, while Scots Allan Dell and Finn Russell flew in from Australia.

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Will the newbies get a cold shoulder from the ones who've been there from the start? Will there be a split between the originals and the Johnny come latelys?

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, who has watched all five episodes of The Lions to screen since they arrived, has predicted there will.

Finn Russell of Scotland celebrates after scoring a try against Australia on Saturday.
GETTY IMAGES

Finn Russell of Scotland celebrates after scoring a try against Australia on Saturday.

He would say that, wouldn't he?

While every claws-out moment in The Bachelor was played out in front of a barrage of cameras, so you got to see the back-stabbing and infighting, with The Lions that's not the case.

Other than games, the public window has so far come through press conferences with Gatland and his players, who've brushed off talk of a split.

Robbie Henshaw tackled by Malakai Fekitoa of the Highlanders.
DAVID ROGERS/GETTY IMAGES

Robbie Henshaw tackled by Malakai Fekitoa of the Highlanders.

On Saturday, after New Zealand Maori were soundly beaten Gatland roared with laughter at talk of a Lions camp divided - the fact it was an allegation made by Hansen probably added a few decibels.

Asked again on Monday, he against went for the smiling and dismissive option when a possible split was raised, rather than the spitting-tacks alternative he has adopted at times.

"I don't know who was suggesting that," he smiled, when he knew very well who had.

"I don't know, I just heard it somewhere," the Irish reporter said, playing along. End of discussion

Irish midfielder Robbie Henshaw, who is unlikely to be in red for the test at the weekend, felt the newcomers had caused no problems.

"I'm here to play rugby, and if the guys are going to benefit us, then brilliant, we're glad to have them in," he said.

It was a long tour, there would be injuries, and the ultimate aim was to win the test series. Players who missed out on the first test still had a chance to play in the second or third, he said.

"There's a lot to go, it's a long tour and there could be sore bodies come the last week. It's going to be a tough three tests, we're going to need the squad. You could be in at a drop of the hat."

In Australia in 2013 the Lions made nine changes across three tests.

 - Stuff

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