Gatland names Lions team

Coach Warren Gatland has named nine Welsh players in his Lions team to face the Barbarians in Hong Kong, with another two on the bench.

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Manic Street Preachers plan gigs to coincide with Lions

The three are self-confessed 'massive rugby fans' and said the tour is a 'once in a lifetime opportunity' Credit: Sean Dempsey/PA Wire

Welsh rock band Manic Street Preachers have scheduled shows in Australia and New Zealand around the fixtures for the forthcoming British & Irish Lions matches.

They head to Australia towards the end of June and will play shows in Melbourne and Sydney to coincide with matches against the Wallabies, as well as heading to Auckland during a break between games.

The trio recorded a track called 'Australia' in 1996, which was used in ad campaigns by the Australian Tourist Board, but they have not visited the country since 2010.

The visit to New Zealand is understood to be their first.

The group said: "As massive rugby fans the chance to visit one of our favourite countries - play some gigs and watch the British and Irish Lions play Australia is an amazing once in a lifetime opportunity.

"We can't wait to play a selection of our greatest hits to our Australian fans and the thousands of Lions fans travelling Down Under."

Yesterday coach Warren Gatland named 15 Wales players in his 2013 Lions squad, with Sam Warburton as captain.

Welsh Lions players a sign of success - First Minister

The First Minister has told AMs that the inclusion of 15 Welsh players in the Lions squad is a good omen for a successful tour of Australia this summer.

History shows that the Lions do best when there is a large Welsh contingent.

– First Minister Carwyn Jones AM

Carwyn Jones was responding to the Leader of the Opposition, Andrew RT Davies, who said that having so many players selected was a great achievement for a small nation.

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Sam Warburton 'an absolute professional' - Gatland

Warren Gatland says Sam Warburton's professionalism and leadership skills are the reasons he selected him as his captain.

In the last two or three years he's been the most successful captain in the Northern Hemisphere.

I have a huge amount of respect for Sam. He's an absolute professional and he leads from the front.

Gatland admitted it had been tough to leave out the likes of Robshaw and Wilkinson.

There was a robust debate about the squad and there were healthy discussions for every position.

Some real quality players have missed out. We had a thorough process and it's been tough.

He did offer hope to those left out, however, saying: "If you look at previous tours, six to eight players get injured and there will be a group of back-up players who can be called upon."

Lions 2013: Twitter reaction

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Congratulations @samwarburton_ and all your fellow team mates on selection for this year's #lionstour

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Congratulations to all the Welsh boys going to Australia! Special mention to my constituents @adamjones3 and @dan_lydiate #lionstour

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