Saints star North happy to take centre stage

George North celebrates Wales' win against England with Alex CuthbertGeorge North celebrates Wales' win against England with Alex Cuthbert
George North celebrates Wales' win against England with Alex Cuthbert
Saints star George North is ready to take on a central role if Wales need him to in their final two World Cup pool games.

There would appear to be an increasing possibility of juggernaut wing North being moved into midfield for critical appointments with Fiji next Thursday and then Australia nine days later.

Wales had already lost centres Jonathan Davies and Cory Allen from their plans, and now Scarlets midfielder Scott Williams is among the latest major fitness concerns after suffering a knee injury during Saturday’s 28-25 victory over England at Twickenham.

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The extent of Williams’ injury has not yet been confirmed, but if he is sidelined long-term, it might mean Wales boss Warren Gatland switching North to outside centre as Jamie Roberts’ midfield partner.

“If need be, I will play centre or wing, not front row!” said North, who has scored 23 tries in 52 Tests for Wales.

“That is the World Cup - you have to adapt and learn roles. Centre is not one I am unusual with, and it may have to be.”

Wales have collected nine points from a possible 10 in Pool A despite injuries providing one setback after another, and North has underlined the squad’s determination to remain firmly on a quarter-final course.

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“We have injuries, but we have to make sure we are right for Fiji, and after them Australia,” North added. “Then we will reassess, gather our thoughts and focus again.

“It is never nice seeing your mates go down, but from number one to 31 in the squad we have always been there together.

“You see one man go down and you think he has come this far, it is not fair that he cannot go an extra bit, so we may as well dig in for him. He has been there as long as you have and done just as much work. It’s one in, all in.

“If you look where we are, we have played two, won two, which is exactly where we wanted to be at this stage. We knew how tough this group would be from minute one, and we set out to win every game.

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“Now, we have got to focus all our attention on Fiji with a short turnaround. We know what a difficult task that is at the best of times, even with a full week’s preparation, let alone five days.”

Wales assistant coach Shaun Edwards highlighted resilience as being a key component of the team’s Twickenham triumph, and North said: “We’ve been through a lot of stuff already.

“You look at the (pre-tournament) training camps. Switzerland is a beautiful country, but not the nicest place to go for a training camp

“It all starts from there, really. When you look at each other and everyone’s putting the graft in and suffering, you are willing to go the extra step for the man next to you.”