George North responds to critics with world-class form against Ireland
George North says he wanted to "put it right" after spectacularly rediscovering world-class form as Wales shredded Ireland's RBS 6 Nations title hopes.
Juggernaut wing North joined Shane Williams, Gareth Thomas and Ieuan Evans in scoring 30 tries for Wales, touching down twice during a 22-9 Principality Stadium success.
It also silenced the critics who were out in force following Wales' implosion against Scotland two weeks ago, when Wales' Murrayfield hosts scored 20 unanswered second half points and North's below-par defensive performance came under an intense spotlight.
"You always want to go out and play your best in every game you can," North said.
"It was frustrating getting a dead leg in the first three minutes of the Italy game, then missing the England game.
"I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform in the Scotland game, and I didn't get going at all.
"It was disappointing, and I was just thankful to get a chance (against Ireland) to put it right and get back into some form."
North's try double was the sixth time he has achieved that feat in his 68-cap Test career as Wales claimed a biggest victory over Ireland since 1983, while it also made a major statement to British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland ahead of New Zealand tour selection next month.
Their championship hopes might have crashed in Edinburgh, yet the players' response to interim head coach Rob Howley naming an unchanged team for Ireland's Cardiff visit left no doubt about Wales' true quality.
"We knew we could play a lot better than we had been doing," North added.
"Unfortunately, we let the England Test go (Wales lost 21-16), and obviously the Scotland game was very disappointing.
"I think we showed (against Ireland) what it meant to all of us to go out and really want to put it right.
"It was the hurt. The fact we knew we were much better than we had been showing, and the fact results didn't go our way.
"The quality of players we have in our squad is amazing, and against Scotland we didn't fire on all cylinders, which really cost us a lot. It's been hard.
"It is a very honest camp we have. We all put our hands up and were accountable for what we did or didn't do, and the performance we gave.
"I think that is the only way you can really play this game, to be honest with the team and your mates around you.
"It was a tough start to the week. It was a case of drawing a line underneath it (Scotland) and moving on as quickly as we could, focusing 100 per cent on the Ireland game.
"It was a particularly good training week. Everything felt like it was a bit more accurate, and it showed in the game.
"We came out with a point to prove that we are a good team, and the first 20 minutes teed it up to be the great Test match that it was.
"It was a hell of a Test match. I think the first 20 minutes showed the intent of both teams - it was very quick and very physical.
"I think the way we played showed what we can do. We went up a gear.
"For me, I am just happy to be back playing with a bit of confidence and a bit of form now, and hopefully we can carry it forward into France next week, both individually and as a team."