George North: I'm 'better' for playing back in Wales

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George North has scored 34 tries in 74 Wales appearances and two more Test tries in three British and Irish Lions games
Under Armour Series: Wales v Australia
Venue: Principality Stadium, Cardiff Date: Saturday, 10 November Kick-off: 17:20 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Two, S4C, BBC Radio Wales, Radio Cymru, the BBC Sport website and app.

George North says he is a better player for moving back to Wales with Ospreys from English club Northampton.

The 26-year-old wing scored as Wales beat Scotland last Saturday and hopes to help them triumph against Australia in Cardiff this coming Saturday.

North left Scarlets for Saints in 2013 and joined Ospreys in the summer.

“I think you can tell by the way my body language is on the field, the way I’m playing – it’s working better for me,” said North.

The British and Irish Lion is on a National Dual Contract (NDC), which means the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) funds 60% of his salary and his region the rest.

Such arrangements mean North’s training and playing workload is managed jointly by Ospreys and Wales.

He explained how he views the the differences between life in England’s top flight and playing in the Pro14 for Ospreys where he has scored five tries in six games.

“It’s completely different. The Premiership is its own beast and it’s been well-documented, the fact it’s such a big business and it draws huge crowds and it is amazing,” North told the 5 Live Rugby Union weekly podcast.

“Coming back to Wales was a bit more of the bigger-picture decision; where I want to be and where I was at the time, and want to go.

“Coming back has given me that snapshot in a small window already. It’s allowed me to have a proper off-season, it’s allowing me to have a full pre-season.

“Sometimes internationally you come back from tour, you have two or three weeks to get yourself ready for another season.

“It’s difficult to do that and then (being back in Wales) it’s allowing me to play a couple of games on the bounce, have rotation week (not playing) and then do a bit of conditioning to get back up to where I need to be and then go back to my work.

“We are creatures of habit, so we want to play, but it’s knowing you don’t win championships and titles in November time; you win them at the end of the year.

“It’s just given me a bit more freedom to take care of myself to do the best for me, but also to do the best for the region and then for the country and it’s allowing me to play the rugby I know I can get back to.”

North’s targets

North’s try against Scotland took him to third in Wales all-time try scoring list with 34, above Ieuan Evans with Shane Williams (58) and Gareth Thomas (40) ahead of him.

Williams’ tries came in 87 Wales games, a strike rate of a try every 1.5 games.

Ex-Wales captain Thomas’ achieved a score every 2.5 games as he won 100 caps while North’s is a try almost every 2.3 games.

North should expect to pass Thomas’ total this season and target overhauling Williams’ record in the longer-term

“I said from minute one, if I could ever have half the career Shane’s had I could retire as a happy man,” said North.

“Now you get in that mixture of people, it really puts a smile on your face and kicks you on again, thinking ‘oh, maybe I’ve got one more thing to do’.”



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