Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

North vows to bow out on a high

George North

George North has vowed that Wales intend to "have a crack" and bring the curtain down on their World Cup campaign in exhilarating trademark fashion.

Wales face Australia in Friday's World Cup bronze medal match at Eden Park, a game that neither side wanted, but one which could catch fire, given both teams' try-laden back divisions. North and company are on the back of an agonising 9-8 semi-final loss to France, while Australia have had one day less to dust themselves off following a 14-point defeat against New Zealand.

North said: "We enjoy to play, throw the ball around and have a crack. Hopefully, it won't just be a boring 3-all game. Hopefully, it will be a good game to finish with, have a crack and enjoy it."

Wales will be without suspended skipper Sam Warburton - prop Gethin Jenkins leads the team in his absence - but coach Warren Gatland has retained 12 of the side that started against France.

Gatland's Wallabies counterpart Robbie Deans, meanwhile, has made six changes up front - lock Nathan Sharpe wins his 100th cap - and recalled fit-again full-back Kurtley Beale, while partnering Adam Ashley-Cooper and Berrick Barnes in midfield.

"This is a young group of guys, and the way we are playing we are just enjoying our rugby," added 19-year-old wing North. "That is going to be the key for us looking to the future.

"Everyone is excited to get a chance to play against a southern hemisphere side down in New Zealand. It is a great opportunity. There are very similar attributes in both the teams."

The Wales squad will head home on Saturday, having won four games and lost two - against South Africa and France, both by a point - and North reflects a wider view in New Zealand that they do not deserve another defeat.

"It's obviously disappointing, but you never know what is going to happen, do you?" he added. "With the talent we have in the squad and in the team, it will be a great game to watch.

"We look on ourselves these days and we are playing with what I guess people would call no fear. But it's not no fear, it's the confidence and ability and the confidence around us, everyone playing for each other and for the benefit of the team."

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