Rugby

Bookies back All Blacks to sweep Lions series

2017-04-20 15:31
Steve Hansen (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Bookmakers have backed the world champion All Blacks to sweep their upcoming three-Test series against the British & Irish Lions.

READ: Lions clutching at straws - Hansen

On Wednesday coach Warren Gatland named a 41-man Lions squad that will head to New Zealand looking for only their second series victory in what will be their 12th tour.

Despite a squad that has received positive reviews, leading SA bookies Sportingbet have installed the All Blacks as 2/9 favourites for the series triumph.

The Lions can be backed at 3/1, while a drawn series is on offer at 33/1.

In terms of a final Test scoreline, a New Zealand 3-0 whitewash is on offer at 10/11 while the Lions to do the same to the Steve Hansen-led All Blacks is available at 25/1.

In addition to the three Tests, the Lions will play all five New Zealand Super Rugby franchises as well as the Maori All Blacks and a Provincial Union XV in a gruelling 10-match schedule - all to take place in the space of five weeks.

The first (June 24) and third (July 8) Tests will both take place at Eden Park in Auckland, while the second - and potential series decider - will take place at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington (July 1).

The Lions have a dire record against the All Blacks with their lone series success - a 2-1 victory - coming some 46 years ago in 1971.

In fact, in the 38 Tests played in total since 1888, the Lions have only tasted victory on 6 occasions, with the All Blacks emerging victorious 29 times with 3 draws.

In their most recent series in 2005, the Clive Woodward-coached Lions went down 3-0 after 21-3, 48-18 and 38-19 Test defeats.

British & Irish Lions 41-man squad for the tour of New Zealand:

Backs

Fullback/wings: Elliot Daly (ENG), Anthony Watson (ENG), Lee Halfpenny (WAL), Liam Williams (WAL), George North (WAL), Stuart Hogg (SCO), Jack Nowell (ENG), Jared Payne (IRL), Tommy Seymour (SCO)

Centres: Ben Te'o (ENG), Jonathan Davies (WAL), Owen Farrell (ENG), Robbie Henshaw (IRL), Jonathan Joseph (ENG)

Flyhalves: Jonathan Sexton (IRL), Dan Biggar (WAL)

Scrumhalves: Conor Murray (IRL), Rhys Webb (WAL), Ben Youngs (ENG)

Forwards

Back row: Taulupe Faletau (WAL), Billy Vunipola (ENG), Sam Warburton (WAL, captain), Sean O'Brien (IRL), CJ Stander (IRL), Ross Moriarty (WAL), Peter O'Mahony (IRL), Justin Tipuric (WAL)

Locks: Maro Itoje (ENG), Alun Wyn Jones (WAL), Iain Henderson (IRL), George Kruis (ENG), Courtney Lawes (ENG)

Tighthead props: Tadhg Furlong (IRL), Dan Cole (ENG), Kyle Sinckler (ENG)

Hookers: Jamie George (ENG), Rory Best (IRL), Ken Owens (WAL)

Loosehead props: Mako Vunipola (ENG), Joe Marler (ENG), Jack McGrath (IRL)

Fixtures for the British & Irish Lions tour of New Zealand:

June 3: v Provincial Union XV, Whangarei

June 7: v Blues, Auckland

June 10: v Crusaders, Christchurch

June 13: v Highlanders, Dunedin

June 17: v Maori All Blacks, Rotorua

June 20: v Chiefs, Waikato

June 24: 1ST TEST v NEW ZEALAND, Auckland

June 27: v Hurricanes, Wellington

July 1: 2ND TEST v NEW ZEALAND, Wellington

July 8: 3RD TEST v NEW ZEALAND, Auckland

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