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Dublin: 3°C Wednesday 14 April 2021

'It feels scary how quickly it’s come around, four years has gone like that'

George North is hoping to make a similar impact on the Lions tour this time around.

Murray Kinsella reports from Christchurch

IT’S ALMOST FOUR years since George North pulled off what remains the defining image of the 2013 Lions tour.

In the second Test against the Wallabies, the beastly Welsh wing found himself confronted with Israel Folau after taking a sharp between-the-legs pass from Brian O’Driscoll.

There was a brief grapple but then North picked the Australian fullback up like a bag of spuds and marched him backwards.


It was a moment of pure physical power and it summed up North’s major impact on that tour, having scored a wonder try in the first Test to help the Lions to victory.

North dotted down in the third Test too and generally stood out as the Lions’ prime backline attacking weapon. Just 21 back then, the Welshman will be back in the tourists’ red shirt tomorrow against the Crusaders [KO 8.35am Irish time, Sky Sports] and he’s keen to have a similar impact.

“I was saying the other day it feels scary how quickly it’s come around, four years has gone like that,” says North. “It has gone quick, hasn’t it?”

He’s only 25 now, but already North has amassed 76 Wales caps and he may well have a third Lions tour ahead of him in 2021.

Though he had already starred for Wales beforehand, that 2013 tour was the time when North announced himself as a star of the global game and while it didn’t quite change his life, it pushed his career to the next level.

“It certainly got a lot busier, I guess being on the Lions tour is the pinnacle,” says North. “Playing for your country is huge but the Lions is massive. It really cemented the fact that I could play international rugby and be part of it.

“To be involved in that sort of thing was huge and certainly after that the pressure sort of rises on players after a Lions tour. That’s why you play the big games though, to be involved in these type of tours.”

North Try

The try North scored in the first Test against the Wallabies is the kind of big play Gatland will be hoping for from the Northampton wing in New Zealand over the coming weeks.

With his combination of size, acceleration and pure power, North is something unique in the Lions’ crop of wings and there are few players as good as him going forward when he is at his best.

Gatland says he wants his players to show their x-factor against the Kiwi teams and North appears to be more than capable of providing that.

I don’t think he’s put it on any one individual, he’s put it to us as a squad,” says North. “I guess if you come to New Zealand you know you’re going to get a lot of x-factor coming back at you and I think he’s put it to the squad, and we have to deliver some ourselves.

“We know the challenge is huge and the games are tight. I was touring with Wales last summer and we saw how tough it can be, especially in those last 10 minutes. If we can stay strong in our defence and hold them out, then sometimes you need that little bit of x-factor to win games or turn games around.”

There are some question marks around North’s defensive positioning and concentration, but he is likely to be a central figure on this tour and the former Scarlets man is eager to get his involvement up and running after missing out on the first two games.

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George North North features for the first time on this tour tomorrow. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The Crusaders are potent opposition tomorrow, but the Lions are looking to gather momentum.

“It’s about the Test series and we have these games to prepare,” says North. “Like anyone, you want to play some good rugby, but it’s all about building for the Test series. We need to start kicking on now.”

North should be able aid that process.


15. Isreal Dagg
14. Seta Tamanivalu
13. Jack Goodhue
12. David Havili
11. George Bridge
10. Richie Mo’unga
9. Bryn Hall

1. Joe Moody
2. Codie Taylor
3. Owen Franks
4. Luke Romano
5. Sam Whitelock (captain)
6. Heiden Bedwell-Curtis
7. Matt Todd
8. Jordan Taufua


16. Ben Funnell
17. Wyatt Crockett
18. Michael Alaalatoa
19. Quinten Strange
20. Jed Brown
21. Mitch Drummond
22. Mitch Hunt
23. Tim Bateman


15. Stuart Hogg
14. George North
13. Jonathan Davies
12. Ben Te’o
11. Liam Williams
10. Owen Farrell
9. Conor Murray

1. Mako Vunipola
2. Jamie George
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Alun Wyn Jones (captain)
5. George Kruis
6. Peter O’Mahony
7. Sean O’Brien
8. Taulupe Faletau


16. Ken Owens
17. Jack McGrath
18. Dan Cole
19. Maro Itoje
20. CJ Stander
21. Rhys Webb
22. Johnny Sexton
23. Anthony Watson

Referee: Mathieu Raynal [FFR].

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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