Warren Gatland
Warren Gatland NZ Herald / Mark Mitchell

Three NZ players make the cut for Lions rugby tour

SHOULD it be the British, Irish and New Zealand Lions?

Kiwi Warren Gatland has named his Lions squad to tour Australia next month, with three New Zealand-born players making the cut.

England's Dylan Hartley (Rotorua-born) and Mako Vunipola (Wellington) and Scotland's Sean Maitland (Tokoroa) all made the 37-man roster.

The squad will be captained by 24-year-old Sam Warburton, one of 15 Welshman in the party.

Maitland, a cousin of Queensland Reds playmaker Quade Cooper, said he would love to come up against the talented No.10 in the series.

"He's had the wood over me in a few recent battles so hopefully we can get one over him," Maitland said.

Cooper also tweeted: "Hooooly omg my cousin made the lions!!!! I'm so damn proud of my lil cuz. Came along way from the back yard tokoroa boys with snotty noses!!"

The New Zealand-born trio are among seven Lions born outside of the home nations and Ireland.

Welshman Toby Faletau was born in Tonga, England's Manu Tuilagi was born in Samoa while Matt Stevens (England) and Ian Evans (Wales) were born in South Africa.