North not getting carried away
February 6, 2012
Wales wing George North produced a superb all-round display against Ireland on Sunday © Getty Images
Teenage winger George North is refusing to dwell on his sensational showing in Wales' dramatic opening Six Nations victory over Ireland on Sunday.
The 19-year-old lit up his side's 23-21 triumph with a dazzling blend of power, pace and skill that his coach Warren Gatland hailed as "absolutely world-class".
North's exploits brought him one of Wales' three tries to take his tally to 10 from just 17 Tests but it was his barnstorming run and one-handed off-load that to his centre Jonathan Davies that was rightly heralded as the individual highlight of a gripping game decided by Leigh Halfpenny's 80th-minute penalty.
"I was pleased with the way it went," said North, who donned the No.11 shirt vacated by the recently-retired Shane Williams. "I had been a bit disappointed with the way I had been playing for the Scarlets coming into the tournament, so it was a great feeling to get that try as well, which is always pleasing for a winger because that is your job.
"It was a great occasion. It was only my second Six Nations game, and pulling on that Welsh jersey again is just an awesome experience. It was a physical match and the body is a bit sore, but it's a case of looking forward to Scotland now."
North's display will unquestionably make him a marked man throughout the rest of the tournament, although on current evidence it will take a superhuman effort to halt his destructive path. "I suppose you have to expect that," said North, when asked if he was prepared to receive some close attention. But there are threats right across the [Wales] back-line, and if the opposition are focusing on one player then that means there is going to be more space for the others.
"We have got some big men in that back-line who can get over the gain-line. But we have also showed we are not just about trucking it up, there was plenty of skill and finesse there, as we showed for all the tries."
The last time Wales won a Six Nations game on Irish soil in 2008 it was part of a title and Grand Slam-winning season, and with three of their remaiming four games being at home, it could be tough work for North and company to keep a lid on public expectation.
"We are really happy with the way we were able to dig deep and get a result out in Ireland, but we also know we can get better," he added. "It was a result that showed where we are as a squad. There is a huge amount of belief and character here, and the camaraderie among the boys is fantastic.
"We know Scotland are going to come out strongly next Sunday after what happened against England, but we will be going into the game with confidence. It's all about the next game for us, and being back in Cardiff is a bonus. We are not getting carried away with the win against Ireland. There were a lot of pleasing aspects to the way we played, but there are also areas we will want to improve on."
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