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Lions to Play USA en route to NZ 2017

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All Blacks stand firm as Lions eye USA game

Sam Warburton leads the celebrations after captaining the Lions to victory over Australia 

A potential British & Irish Lions match in the United States in 2017 would have to take place in addition to their tour of New Zealand, according to a report in the Guardian.

New Zealand are reportedly not prepared to give up any of its scheduled fixtures against the Lions, meaning a 10-game tour would have to be extended if the Lions wished to push ahead with a potentially lucrative warm-up game in the USA.

Lions chief executive John Feehan insisted that no firm decision has been made over preparations for their 2017 tour, but confirmed the US had applied to stage a match.

"If we have an extra game, they'd certainly be one of the better bets," he said. "It'll be a very tough tour and we need to make sure we give the guys the best chance. We are looking at a game but it's not necessarily in America."

The Lions visited Hong Kong in similar circumstances ahead of their 2013 tour of Australia, but Feehan insisted that any stopover in two years time will be played for rugby reasons, not commercial.

"It'll be a very tough tour and we need to make sure we give the guys the best chance," he said. "We are looking at a game but it's not necessarily in America."

A New Zealand Rugby Union source indicated to the Guardian that the NZRU would reject any proposals to cancel one of their fixtures against the Lions.

France are also believed to have proposed a rival bid to host the Lions, but Nigel Melville - the former England and Lions scrum-half who is now chief executive of USA Rugby, is confident a US stopover would make the most sense. In a November interview with ESPNscrum, Melville indicated that hosting a Lions game and the 2023 World Cup were both targets for USA Rugby.

"If they do [come to America] they will help us with the growth of the game here to a huge extent and the Lions have a lot of global sponsors who would certainly welcome the opportunity to bring the Lions to the USA," said Melville.

The US Eagles, America's national team, hosted the All Blacks in Chicago last November. The home side lost 74-6 in a comprehensive defeat, but the game was a 61,500 sell-out and was broadcast live nationally by NBC.

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