Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

North: We can cope without Gatland

George North

George North admits it will be "weird" when Wales travel to Australia without Warren Gatland, but insists they can emerge victorious down under despite the absence of their coach.

Double Grand Slam winner Gatland has been sidelined from the tour as he recovers from the injuries he suffered in a fall at his home in New Zealand earlier this month.

"It's obviously bad news for Warren and we hope it's a speedy recovery," said the Scarlets three-quarter. "But I am sure Rob (Howley) will do a good job as all the other coaching staff will do."

He added: "It will maybe affect us a little bit with the head coach not out there, but the quality of players we have now and the quality of the coaching staff is very high.

"It will be a bit weird not having him there but I am sure we can cope."

The Kiwi, the favourite to lead the British & Irish Lions to Australia in 2013, broke both his heels and Rob Howley has been handed the reins as caretaker coach while Gatland recuperates.

The RBS 6 Nations champions face a tough summer with a three-Test series against the Wallabies following on from a Millennium Stadium appointment against the Barbarians.

Wales' previous efforts to build on Grand Slam success in 2005 and 2008 ultimately fell short but North says there is no lack of hunger in their impressive young squad following their latest Six Nations clean sweep.

"We have been guilty in the past of slowing down after a slam but the boys we have here are keen to push on achieve more, we believe we can do that with the quality of players we have," he said.

"Australia are a hard team to play wherever you play them but it will be tough to play three Tests in their back yard. But it's where we need to be, we need to push ourselves to see where we are as a team and a squad."

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