Winger North aiming to end season on a huge high for Saints

TRY GLEE - George North shows his delight after scoring his try against Leicester last Friday (Picture: James Phillips)
TRY GLEE - George North shows his delight after scoring his try against Leicester last Friday (Picture: James Phillips)

“No pressure, then,” replies George North to suggestions that the next two weeks can help him make a good first season at Saints a great one.

North, whose arrival at Northampton from Scarlets last summer caused quite a stir, feels he could have offered more during this term.

And he knows Saints fans will be expecting big things from him and his team-mates as they bid to claim an Aviva Premiership and Amlin Challenge Cup double.

“It was tough at the start and after a whole season I’m still learning things as I go along,” said North, reflecting on this campaign.

“That’s something I wanted to come to the Premiership for, to keep pushing myself and learning stuff.

“I feel like I’m settling in now. I know where I need to be and what I need to do.

“I’ve just really enjoyed this first season, getting into it, getting stuck into it.

“It’s been tough and I haven’t really made as much impact I was hoping, but that’s expectation for you.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it and hopefully I’ve done enough to earn my place.”

North was all smiles as he emerged for Saints’ weekly media session.

The Wales wing revels in big games and big occasions, which was clear when he shone for the British & Irish Lions during their series win in Australia last summer.

He has gone on to score eight tries in 20 Saints appearances, including a massive one in the 21-20 Premiership play-off semi-final success against Leicester last Friday.

That victory set up a final clash with Saracens at Twickenham on May 31, but Saints must first contend with the Amlin Challenge Cup final encounter with Bath on Friday night.

“To be involved in two finals now is something that puts a smile on my face,” said the ever-jovial North.

“It’s one of those ones where we’ve got two weeks to really showcase what we can do.”

This week’s trip to Cardiff will be special for North, who, if selected, will play his first club game back in Wales since leaving Scarlets.

And it will also be his first game at Cardiff Arms Park, with the 22-year-old excited about what lies ahead.

“It’s nice to go back to Wales,” said North. “It’s never a bad thing to go back home.

“For us it’s going to be a challenge to play against Bath. It’s a tough game but it’s the start of a big two weeks for us.

“It feels weird thinking about it (going back to Wales for a club game) initially, but it’s quite refreshing.

“It’s spectacular to be involved in a cup final in Wales.”

North is now firmly settled at Saints after initially admitting it took him time to get to grips with life at Franklin’s Gardens.

He revelled in the east midlands derby victory against Leicester in the Aviva Premiership play-off semi-final last week, describing it as the best atmosphere he’d sampled in a club game.

And he was delighted to ensure his season, which came hot on the heels of the Lions series, was extended to the end of May.

“You buy Welsh and it’s robust, you see,” joked North when asked about how fresh he is feeling after non-stop assignments.

“It’s been almost a two-year season for me, give or take a few days, but these are the days you play for.

“These are the days that you dig in for in the dark months of December. These are the days you stand on the pitch and can’t feel your hands for.

“Anyone who plays at this level, if they can’t get excited for these days they shouldn’t be playing rugby.

“I came to be part of a winning squad. I came to be part of winning silverware.

“Hopefully I’ve done enough to be involved in these two finals. It’s up to the boss man what he wants to do.

“These are the games you want to play in. You’ve got to step up and put your big boy pants on.”