Lions to play All Blacks twice at Eden Park on 2017 tour

The Lions, who were whitewashed 3-0 by Graham Henry’s team in 2005, open the tour on the North Island against a provincial union team in Whangarei on June 3, according to the schedule released on Friday.

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They head south for tour matches against Super Rugby teams and the Maori All Blacks prior to the first test in Auckland on June 24.

The second test will be played a week later in Wellington before the final test returns to Auckland on July 8.

“The 2017 Series is likely to be one of the most significant sporting events our country has hosted since Rugby World Cup 2011 and perhaps the biggest New Zealand will host for some time,” New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew said in a statement.

“More than 20,000 Lions supporters travelled to New Zealand in 2005, generating more than NZ$135 million (59 million pounds) in benefits — we’re confident the 2017 Series will exceed these figures.”

New Zealand’s other major cities, including Christchurch and Dunedin, had been considered for the tests but deemed unable to cope with the influx of tourists and accommodation demands, NZ Rugby said.

They have been allocated tour matches instead.

Schedule:

June 3 v Provincial Union Team, Whangarei

June 7 v Auckland Blues, Eden Park

June 10 v Canterbury Crusaders, Christchurch

June 13 v Otago Highlanders, Dunedin

June 17 v Maori All Blacks, Rotorua

June 20 v Waikato Chiefs, Hamilton

June 24 v All Blacks, Eden Park

June 27 v Wellington Hurricanes, Wellington

July 1 v All Blacks, Wellington

July 8 v All Blacks, Eden Park

(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Nick Mulvenney)