North: Slam talk not a distraction
March 11, 2012
George North has called on Wales to remain focused © Getty Images
George North is confident that Wales can block out the external pressure prior to next weekend's Grand Slam decider against France in Cardiff.
The 19-year-old winger helped Wales secure a tough 24-3 win over Italy at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday, leg four of a possible third clean sweep in eight seasons.
In 2008, Wales saw off France 29-12 to secure the Championship and North is keen to see history repeat itself.
"We can't really deny the fact we have a Grand Slam game coming up," North said. "It is something we can think about now, but it is just another Test match, really. I think it will be a good game - a great spectacle.
"There is going to be a lot of hype this week, I am sure it will be built up nicely for us, but we are quite good at blanking things out. We will just dig in and do our job, and whatever people want to say, they can say. We will just come in on Monday morning and train hard.
"I am sure there are plenty of people who will hype up the game left, right and centre, but we want to let our rugby do the talking."
North was part of the Wales team beaten 9-8 by France in a contentious World Cup semi-final last October. Wales had skipper Sam Warburton sent off for a dangerous tackle midway through the first half, yet an astounding 14-man performance almost saw France toppled against all odds.
"There will be a lot of hype about revenge and redemption after the World Cup, but I think both teams have moved on since then," North said.
"They are playing well, we are playing good rugby as well, so I can't really see who is the favourite. It is a case of us tightening up and being clinical when the chances come. "We need to be a bit more efficient around the park. Little mistakes didn't really help us against Italy. They disrupted us really well, and we couldn't get into our zone.
"I think we learnt loads from the World Cup. If you look at the way we are playing, there is more confidence in our game, we are throwing the ball around."
Meanwhile, Italy skipper Sergio Parisse has called on his men to put defeat in Cardiff behind them prior to next weekend's wooden spoon decider against Scotland in Rome.
"Apart from the second half in Dublin it has not been a bad Championship, it is our first with Jacques [Brunel] in charge as head coach," he said. "We missed the win against England by just a few points and we hope we can win against Scotland next week to end the Championship on a high."
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