Great Britain evacuated from Auckland base because of fire

The Great Britain squad have been evacuated from their Auckland base after a fire at the neighbouring SkyCity Convention Centre.

Tuesday, 22nd October 2019, 8:57 am
Zak Hardaker in training with GB before their evacuation
Zak Hardaker in training with GB before their evacuation

The centre of Auckland has been covered by smoke from the fire and the team have been moved to Hamilton a day earlier than planned to prepare for Saturday's first Test of the tour against the Tonga Invitational XIII at the Waikato Stadium.

The players, who had been on a day off on Tuesday, left Auckland at 5pm local time to make the 69-mile trip south to Hamilton.

A spokesman said: "It all happened very quickly. Within an hour of being told to pack their bags we were on the coach out of Auckland."

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The team were due to train in Auckland on Wednesday before making the trip but will now train in Hamilton instead and the announcement of a 21-man squad for Saturday's game is likely to be postponed.

The 24-man squad and support staff flew into Auckland from Sydney on Monday after attending the inaugural World Cup Nines tournament last weekend to embark on the first Lions tour to New Zealand since 1996.

The Great Britain banner was mothballed in 2007 to enable the home nations to compete separately but the Rugby Football League bowed to pressure to bring it back.

England coach Wayne Bennett is in charge of the Lions, who will open their four-match tour against the Tongans at the 25,800-capacity Waikato Stadium and play two Tests against the Kiwis before moving on to Port Moresby to face Papua New Guinea.