North wants to make most of RWC experience

2015-09-26 11:54
Warren Gatland (Gallo)

Twickenham - Wales' George North hopes knowledge gained from the 2011 World Cup will stand him in good stead when he faces England at Twickenham on Saturday.

The giant wing was only 19-years-old when he helped Wales reach the semi-finals in New Zealand four years ago.

Since then North, now with English Premiership side Northampton, has become the youngest player to win 50 Tests caps and his 23 Test tries put him fourth in Wales' all-time list.

In a career that already includes a victorious British and Irish Lions tour of Australia in 2013, when Wales coach Warren Gatland was in charge, North was in no doubt about the status of the World Cup.

"For me, the World Cup is the biggest honour," he said. "Whenever I put a Wales jersey on, I want to play my best, so there is no lack of effort.

"But any World Cup is the time you want to be shining, and obviously being so close to home this time it would be a good one to shine in."

In 2011 North was still, by his own admission a Test novice.

"For me, 2011 was a massive learning curve. If I look back, it was just the fact that I was so young and so naive to the ways of international rugby at the time," he said.

"I guess now it is a case of becoming more professional and knowing what is better for me on a week-to-week basis with a Test match on the Saturday.

"It has generally been about working out where I can be a pain," added North, who this year spent several months out of rugby because of a series of concussion injuries.

Tournament hosts England and Wales won their opening World Cup matches last week and victory for either side on Saturday would take a huge stride towards securing a quarter-final place from the tough group also featuring two-time champions Australia. There is also Fiji who knocked the Welsh out of the 2007 World Cup in France.

"You look at our group, and everyone has dubbed it the group of death. Obviously, it is very hard, and our first big test is coming this Saturday," North said.

Injuries have deprived Wales of the likes of full-back Leigh Halfpenny and scrum-half Rhys Webb.

"I think if you look at the (Wales) squad, obviously we have had some injuries, but every man that has been picked at the weekend 'Gats' has got complete trust in," North added.

"I have no doubt that we will go and do a job for each other. We have got the chance to show what we can do."

England, in the absence of injured centre Jonathan Joseph, have opted for a muscular midfield combination of rugby league converts Sam Burgess and Brad Barritt.

"They have obviously got two big bashers in Burgess and Barritt, and the more we play and work around them, the better," said North.

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