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Welsh Rugby
Woodward tips North for Lions and Olympics
ESPN Staff
September 28, 2012
Wales' George North is smashed by Ross Rennie, Wales v Scotland, Six Nations, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales, February 12, 2012
George North could make an impact in sevens © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: George North | Clive Woodward
Teams: Wales

Sir Clive Woodward has tipped Wales winger George North to make an impact both for the British & Irish Lions and Great Britain's sevens side in the Rio 2016 Games.

North has already cemented his spot in the Wales side despite being aged just 20 and is one of the favourites for a spot on the plane to Australia with the Lions come May next year. Woodward, who coached the Lions back in 2005, currently holds the position of director of sport for the British Olympic Association and will be a key player in the integration of sevens into the Olympics in four years time.

North will be 24 when the Games come around and Woodward believes he is a standout contender for the sevens squad. "It's like you would pick a Lions team, you'd pick your dream sevens team and it's probably more difficult to pick a sevens team," Woodward told the BBC. "George North would certainly make my Lions team at the moment. Would he make my sevens team, yes."

It is not yet clear whether Team GB will blood dedicated sevens players in the Games or draft in some stellar names from the XV format of the game. If they do turn to the XV players then Woodward is adamant that they will have to spend time playing sevens before the Games rather than coming into the showpiece event with a lack of game time.

"You're trying to pick this team, but he's [North] got to play sevens, you can't just put him in to that level. The fitness is a little bit different," Woodward said. "So certainly a year out, you'd like to think post-World Cup you're only 12 months away [from the Olympics] so a few players, a couple from each country, coming in.

"They're big names, but you're not picking them for their names. Can they play sevens? Can they go and win a gold medal? You obviously want to play in the World Cup, that's your big priority, but then to go to the Olympic Games as a sevens player if you're good enough would be a big, big tick for me.

"We've got the structure there - it's good to see the quality of the coaches around - it is a different game to coach [than 15-a-side], it's a very specialised game to coach. The real debate is, is it a specialised game to play in? Can you drop people in from the 15-man game just like that and compete at the top level?

"Or do you need a specialist sevens player, playing at least two years out from the Olympics? The Olympic gold medal is very valuable currency.

"Anything is possible because this takes it to a whole new level and I'd like to think in Rio it'll be one of the big success stories. There's no doubt this will help rugby hugely, but I think it's going to be a great Olympic event as well."

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