NEWPORT Gwent Dragons lock Cory Hill and three other players touring the southern hemisphere with Wales have been called into the British and Irish Lions’ squad.

It caps a remarkable season for Hill, who wasn't on the international radar this time last year.

The 25-year-old was called up to the Wales squad because of injuries last autumn and went on to be capped against Australia, Japan and South Africa before featuring against Italy and England in the Six Nations.

He was vice-captain in Wales' win against Tonga in Auckland on Friday and will now stay in New Zealand while the squad head of to face Samoa in Apia.

Hill, hooker Kristian Dacey, prop Tomas Francis and scrum-half left Wales' camp in Auckland after their Test against Tonga to meet up with the Lions ahead of the clash with the Maori All Blacks.

However, Wales back-rower Ross Moriarty's Lions tour is over after he failed to recover from a back injury.

The Lions announced the call-ups in a press release which also promised "a further announcement regarding call-ups following the conclusion of other Home Union Tests this weekend".

It is understood Scotland duo Allan Dell and Finn Russell will fly in from Australia to also join the party.

Head coach Warren Gatland has long had this plan in mind to bolster his squad and protect the Lions’ chances in the three-Test series against New Zealand.

The new call-ups will sit on the bench against the Chiefs on Tuesday night – three days after the Maori clash and four days before the first Test.

Gatland said: “We have said all along that we need to give ourselves the best chance of winning the Test series and that could potentially involve calling up players.

"Bringing in these players from an identical time zone, who can hit the ground running and step straight in rather than having to adjust following long-haul travel, will help us manage players before the first Test, give us quality training numbers to prepare properly as well as offering us options for selection for the Chiefs match."

All Blacks boss Steve Hansen predicted the Lions' call-ups on Thursday, and the information has dribbled out since.

The Lions have been accused of favouring geographical proximity above meritocracy for their impending additions.

But they are understood to have told their initial 41-man squad in May that they planned to bring in mid-tour reinforcements to safeguard the Test line-up against injury.

Gatland added: "These are players currently on international duty who we are looking forward to welcoming into the Tour party as we did with several players in 2013.

"I spoke to all the home union coaches prior to departure and explained our thinking and they were all supportive."

Despite that, England boss Eddie Jones said Lions call-ups should be decided on "merit rather than geography" and insisted his own team's location in Argentina should not count against them.

"It's only a 13-hour trip from here to New Zealand," Jones told the BBC. "The (England) boys could be there.

"The Lions is a prestigious team – when you become a Lion you're remembered for life."

Players only receive an official Lions playing number once they take the field for the tourists.

So any call-ups to the tour will not gain total Lions status without joining the fray against the Chiefs, even if they take a seat on the bench.