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Great Britain Rugby League Lions squad are evacuated from their hotel in Auckland after a FIRE at nearby convention centre - and they are then moved 69 miles away to Hamilton as first tour in 12 years suffers bad start

Great Britain Rugby League Lions squad were forced from their base in AucklandA fire broke out at the SkyCity Convention Centre close to their hotelGreat Britain play first first tour match since 2007 against the TongansOther Tests on the tour include two vs New Zealand then Papua New Guinea

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

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.

Great Britain Rugby League Lions squad are evacuated from their hotel in Auckland after a FIRE at nearby convention centre - and they are then moved 69 miles away to Hamilton as first tour in 12 years suffers bad start

A fire broke out on the rooftop of Auckland's SkyCity Convention Centre on Tuesday

Great Britain's Rugby League Lions squad were evacuated from their nearby hotel in Auckland

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.'

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.

Authorities said that the fire was moving very quickly and was very challenging to fight

One person suffered serious injuries from smoke inhalation and was rushed to hospital

Fire crews are still at the scene of the blaze, with the centre of Auckland covered by smoke 

Wayne Bennett's 21-man squad announcement on Wednesday is likely to be postponed

Topic: #rugby league
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