George North is confident Wales can do to the Springboks in the upcoming three-Test series in July as Italy did to them in the historic final-round Six Nations upset. DYLAN JACK reports.
Wales will be going into the three-Test tour of South Africa as rank outsiders, having endured a tough Six Nations campaign which ended with a dispiriting defeat by Italy.
That was Italy’s first win over Wales since 2007 and ended a 36-game Six Nations losing streak.
Wales have never beaten the world champion Springboks in South Africa in 10 previous attempts, even though recent Tests between the two sides have been closely contested.
However, in an online media conference, North said that Wales would be embracing their status at outsiders when they take on the world champions.
“I think so, considering the backlash of the Italy result was well documented by you fellas. It’s a tough place to be, but Wales notoriously always does well as the underdogs,” said North. “When we have been knocked down, we always seem to step back up.
“What an opportunity and what a test, three [games] out there in South Africa, it will be huge.”
If he is named to start against the Springboks, North would be pitted against the World Cup-winning centre combination of Damian de Allende and Lukhanyo Am.
“That’s the reason you graft as hard as you do, we want to test ourselves against the best,” he said about potentially facing the duo. “The opportunity there, three Tests back to back, is going to be huge. It is going to be a real squad effort to be sure.”
North has only recently recovered from the injury that kept him on the sidelines for a year and forced him to miss last year’s series between the British&Irish Lions and Springboks.
He admitted that it was difficult to watch the series from home, as he had to do punditry work through the tour.
“I was actually working for TalkSport during the whole thing, so I actually had to watch it because I couldn’t talk rubbish without knowing what I was watching,” North said.
“I did find it hard. I probably found it harder than I thought, to be honest. That was always my fuel, to play well for your club and country and then get higher honours at the Lions. I found it tough, but I did manage to watch it as a fan.”
North added that, with only a handful of games under his belt since returning, he did not expect to be recalled to the squad, despite boasting over 100 Test caps.
“No, to be honest. The main focus for me on the back of my injury was get back for the Ospreys and try to find my groove. There have been limited games to get involved in. But I feel like with the consistency of training, playing back to back, I am feeling better each time.”
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