North primed for Wallabies clash
October 19, 2011
North has featured prominently for Wales during their RWC campaign © Getty Images
George North has vowed that Wales will be going all out to win against the Wallabies and bow out of the World Cup on a high.
Wales face Australia in Friday's World Cup bronze medal match at Eden Park, a game that neither side wanted, but one which could catch fire, given both teams' try-laden back divisions. North and company are on the back of an agonising 9-8 semi-final loss to France, while Australia have had one day less to dust themselves off following a 14-point defeat against New Zealand.
Wales will be without suspended skipper Sam Warburton - prop Gethin Jenkins leads the team in his absence - but coach Warren Gatland has retained 12 of the side that started against France. Gatland's Wallabies counterpart Robbie Deans, meanwhile, has made six changes up front - lock Nathan Sharpe wins his 100th cap - and recalled fit-again full-back Kurtley Beale, while partnering Adam Ashley-Cooper and Berrick Barnes in midfield.
"This is a young group of guys, and the way we are playing we are just enjoying our rugby," said 19-year-old wing North. "That is going to be the key for us looking to the future.
"Everyone is excited to get a chance to play against a southern hemisphere side down in New Zealand. It is a great opportunity. There are very similar attributes in both the teams. We enjoy to play, throw the ball around and have a crack.
"Hopefully, it won't just be a boring 3-all game. Hopefully, it will be a good game to finish with, have a crack and enjoy it."
The Wales squad will head home on Saturday, having won four games and lost two - against South Africa and France, both by a point - and North reflects a wider view in New Zealand that they do not deserve another defeat.
"It's obviously disappointing, but you never know what is going to happen, do you?" he added. "With the talent we have in the squad and in the team, it will be a great game to watch.
"We look on ourselves these days and we are playing with what I guess people would call no fear. But it's not no fear, it's the confidence and ability and the confidence around us, everyone playing for each other and for the benefit of the team."
Wales, if they are able to keep the overwhelming majority of their existing squad together, will be serious contenders for the 2015 World Cup in England. And North is enthused by a stellar group of young talent that has taken the tournament by storm.
"We have Toby Faletau (20), Scott Williams and Lloyd Williams (both 21), Sam Warburton, Dan Lydiate (both 23), and Rhys Priestland. It has been a great experience, and if all the boys are picked (in 2015), it will be another great chance.
"All the boys in the squad have really enjoyed every second. Personally, I've loved it. It has been a great two months for me out here and a great learning curve. I've learnt little things about my trade. Things I didn't know about, things I'm looking forward to try out and things I have to take forward to improve my game.
"It's come out of this World Cup, the back-threes' massive work-rate, and that is something I am looking to improve in my game. It is okay, but there is lot more to come, and I think that will add another dimension to my game.
"The massive support we've had, both here and back home, has been absolutely huge for us. To have 61,000 watching the semi-final at the Millennium Stadium was incredible. So I want to say a massive thanks to everybody who came out and supported us, in New Zealand and back home. Everyone really appreciates that."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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