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'He could play from full-back to back-row and do a better job than most of us'

By PA
Alun Wyn Jones of Barbarians carries a ball out of the ruck during Barbarians training at Sophia Gardens on October 31, 2023 in Cardiff, Wales. The Barbarians play Wales on Saturday November 4th in Cardiff (Photo by Ryan Hiscott/Getty Images for Barbarians)

George North says he is not contemplating following the likes of fellow Wales stars Leigh Halfpenny and Dan Biggar into international retirement.

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Halfpenny, Alun Wyn Jones and Justin Tipuric are the centre of attention when Wales face Principality Stadium opponents the Barbarians on Saturday.

Jones, who made a world record 158 Test match appearances for Wales, captains a Barbarians team that features 93 times-capped flanker Tipuric among his colleagues.

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WATCH as two-time World Cup-winning Springbok captain Siya Kolisi gives an emotional farewell speech to departing coacj Jacques Nienaber

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WATCH as two-time World Cup-winning Springbok captain Siya Kolisi gives an emotional farewell speech to departing coacj Jacques Nienaber

And full-back Halfpenny, with 101 caps under his belt, is set for a final Wales outing before moving to the southern hemisphere, where he is expected to join Super Rugby giants the Crusaders.

Fly-half Biggar, meanwhile, left the international stage following Wales’ World Cup campaign in France and continues to play for Top 14 club Toulon.

At 31, centre North can reflect on a Wales career that has yielded 118 caps and 47 tries, but his appetite for more remains firmly intact.

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“I felt like I was really happy with my performance in the World Cup,” said North, who will partner Johnny Williams in Wales’ midfield this weekend.

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“(I am) still competing, so for me, I am very much still wanting to play and compete for that jersey. It is still a huge part of me and a big driver for me.

“If the boss (Wales head coach Warren Gatland) keeps picking me, I will keep doing the best I can.

“It is obviously a sad day to be losing them. They are big characters and big players for us and have delivered on numerous occasions in big games that people still talk about now.

“But that is the evolution of rugby and you have got to keep up with the curve.

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“I think we saw in the World Cup a number of younger players putting their hands up and taking a step forward. It is time for these boys to get that exposure and get into Test match rugby.”

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North, meanwhile, has paid glowing tributes to Jones, Tipuric and Halfpenny as he prepares to share a big-match stage with them for a final time.

“Al is a guy I’ve known for many years and played alongside,” he added.

“He is an absolute Trojan horse, what he has given to Welsh rugby over the, what is it, 25-30 years he has been playing! For Al to have his last game at home, playing against Wales, is special for him.

“I think Justin is probably one of the best players I’ve played with, his understanding of the game, how best to apply himself and one of the fittest players.

“He could play anywhere. Some people say he could play from full-back to back-row and I am sure he could do a better job than most of us.

“Leigh is another awesome servant of Welsh rugby, a close friend of mine and a brother in arms.

“He literally leaves no stone unturned and he goes out of his way to help anyone and everyone. For Leigh to finish at home is special for him and his family and he has got an exciting next step as well.”

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4 Comments
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Nik 253 days ago

Trojan horse? Wooden? Not what it initially presents to be. Treacherous? Untrustworthy?

C
Chris 254 days ago

Suspect George doesn't know what the Trojan horse was about. He went to private school as well.

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B.J. Spratt 3 hours ago
All Blacks vs England takeaways: Richie Who? Time for Cortez

You Poms and Paddies are really nice guys. New Zealand V Ireland - 37 Tests - N.Z. 31 Wins - Ireland 5 Wins - 1 draw. New Zealand V England - 45 Tests - N.Z. 35 Wins -England 8 Wins - 2 draws. Combined - You have beaten the All Blacks 13 Times in 82 attempts over 119 years. The Stats over 100 years + would say, especially England with 6 Times the player pool than New Zealand, you have “a limitation of context” regarding developing your coaches to teach your players how to WIN. So how can England with a 6 times the player numbers have a 17% winning strike rate against New Zealand? and be 8 -0 in Test Series over 100 years. The answer is simple. Your perception of the game. How do you fix it? You need to play in New Zealand for a couple of seasons in your teens, 18 -20 or send coaches over here. Martin Johnstone played 2 seasons here under the mentorship of Colin Meads. When he came here he had rugby shorts with pockets and a handkerchief in one pocket. He played for NZ Under 21 against Wallaby John Eales. He became the toughest player in the game and the best ever English Captain and Captained the Lions twice. Legend! Maybe if he hadn’t come to New Zealand, he may still had those rugby shorts with pockets. Recently Rogan O’Gara spent time at the Crusaders. What a great coach. “Our “mindset is different” and that’s how we have beaten you for 100 years + How the hell he isn’t Coaching Ireland, France, England, Wales, or Scotland I will never know? England has 131,000 Senior rugby Players. Ireland has 21,000 Senior Players. New Zealand has 27,000 Senior Players.

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