Lions in Australia

North cleared for first Test

2013-06-19 11:00
George North (Getty)

Sydney - Powerful wing George North is fit to face the Wallabies in the opening Test on Saturday and help the British and Irish Lions forget their first non-Test defeat in Australia in 42 years.

Assistant coach Rob Howley on Wednesday said his fellow Welshman had fully recovered from a hamstring strain.

The flying winger passed a fitness test Wednesday morning following the 14-12 loss to the Brumbies in Canberra on Tuesday night.

"I've never seen him in better shape and he's available for selection which is a huge fillip for us," Howley said.

"It's a huge morale boost to have someone like George North available for us."

North, who weighs 110kg (242lb) and stands 1.92m (6ft 4in), is rated one of the best finishers in world rugby.

The Northampton-bound wing is expected to line up against code-hopping Wallabies debutant Israel Folau at Brisbane's sold-out Suncorp Stadium.

However, Welsh compatriot and fellow back Jamie Roberts remains a serious doubt for Saturday.

Centre Roberts, who also pulled a hamstring, against the Waratahs last weekend, is set to sit out the series-opener as is wing Tommy Bowe. The Ulsterman is recovering from a broken hand sustained in the win over the Reds.

The pair may still return for the second Test in Melbourne on June 29. The final clash is in Sydney on July 6.

Howley rated England's bulldozing centre Manu Tuilagi as "touch and go" for Saturday with his shoulder injury steadily improving.

His absence would leave a likely midfield pairing of Welshman Jonathan Davies alongside Irish veteran Brian O'Driscoll at outside centre.

The Lions, fielding six recent injury reinforcements, were battered at the breakdown by the Australian Super Rugby conference leaders in Canberra.

It was the Lions' first tour loss to a provincial side since going down 35-30 to Northern Transvaal in South Africa in 1997 and the first win by an Australian provincial team against them since the Reds beat the tourists 15-11 in 1971.

Lions coach Warren Gatland said he hoped the loss would prove "a reality check" after five consecutive wins in Hong Kong and Australia.

Gatland and rival coach Robbie Deans were due to announce their teams on Thursday.

The Australians had their own good news on Tuesday with winger Digby Ioane declaring himself ready to return to the fray just four weeks after knee surgery.

Australian media reported that Deans has already settled on his side, which will have two other new caps with the Brumbies' Christian Lealiifano at outside centre and wildcard Ben Mowen in the backrow.


What To Read Next


Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk


The Wallaby v British & Irish Lions series is tied at 1-1 heading into the final Test in Sydney on Saturday. Who do you foresee taking series honours?

Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter


With the Absa Premiership in full swing, who will be crowned champions when all is said and done? Will Mamelodi Sundowns defend their title? Or can Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates or Bidvest Wits mount a serious challenge? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.