Gavin Rich - SuperSport
Cardiff - Wales coach Warren Gatland looks set to call in the man that local scribes have described as ‘the Welsh Jonah Lomu’ for Saturday’s Test against the Springboks at the Millennium Stadium.
George North is nearly two metres tall and weighs in at well over 100kg and his sensational form for the Scarlets in the Welsh league has drawn comparisons with the All Black legend Lomu.
Apart from his size, weight, power and the pace that he apparently possesses in abundance, North shares something else in common with Lomu in that if he does make his international debut as expected on Saturday, he will also be doing so well before reaching his 20th birthday. North is expected to line up on the right wing, where he will be marked by Bryan Habana, who some critics still feel is vulnerable defensively.
Gatland is said to have been impressed by the way the 18-year-old has come through in Welsh training sessions.
According to the Welsh newspaper the Western Mail, there will be three changes to the Welsh side, which is due to be named later on Thursday. James Hook is set to return to the midfield, where he will partner the inform Tom Shanklin, while Martyn Williams is to be recalled on the flank. Lee Byrne is expected to be over his injury problems so that he can play at fullback.
This means though that Gatland is unlikely to make the changes that many Welsh critics have been calling for, with halfbacks Mike Phillips and Stephen Jones coming in for a lot of criticism for their performances in the loss to Australia last Saturday.
Prop Gethin Jenkins, a cornerstone of a Welsh pack that was excellent against Australia and which could hold the key to Saturday’s result, reportedly gave the Welsh a scare on Wednesday when he sat out training. However he is expected to be fit to take his place in the team for the match.
Probable Wales team:
Lee Byrne, George North, Tom Shanklin, James Hook, Shane Williams, Stephen Jones, Mike Phillips, Jonathan Thomas, Martyn Williams, Dan Lydiate, Alun Wynn Jones, Bradley Davies, Adam Jones, Matthew Rees (captain), Gethin Jenkins