Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home Sport Rugby

Shaun Edwards expects George North to bounce back against Ireland

Shaun Edwards has admitted that star wing George North "was not at his best" in the defeat against Scotland that effectively ended Wales' RBS 6 Nations title hopes.

North had a poor game defensively when Wales conceded 20 unanswered points at Murrayfield nine days ago, a Scottish second-half onslaught that was highlighted by tries for wings Tommy Seymour and Tim Visser.

And while North is expected to keep his place when Wales host Ireland on Friday night, defence specialist Edwards knows individual defensive errors anywhere in the team cannot be repeated.

"I think that George North had a very good game against Italy (Wales' opening Six Nations opponents last month) in very, very difficult circumstances," Edwards said.

"He got a really bad bang on his leg and toughed it out well.

"Yes, he wasn't at his best against Scotland, but I think great players, who have done great things for you in the past, sometimes deserve a warning.

"If he is selected, I expect George to be certainly on his mettle."

Asked if the general defensive mistakes against Scotland were team or individual issues, Edwards added: "They were individual mistakes because they (players) didn't do what they practised in the build-up to the game.

"They decided to do what they wanted and not what the rest of their team-mates expected them to do.

"When it comes to conceding tries, we've conceded tries on our edge, usually our right edge, and one on the left side (against Scotland)."

Any repeat of such frailty is likely to be punished by an Ireland side still in the Six Nations title hunt, with Edwards especially wary of their half-back threat provided by Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray.

"I have a lot of time for Johnny Sexton," Edwards said. "He has been one of the greatest fly-halves of the last 10 years, there is no doubt about it, and he still is.

"I've got huge respect for him and Conor Murray, two world-class players who are used to playing together, which is very important. We are fully aware of the threat Johnny brings.

"In recent outings against Ireland we've done okay against them, but we know that each game brings a different challenge.

"Conor is very astute, particularly near the try-line. He throws a lot of dummies, tries to go himself and scores a lot of tries, and Johnny orchestrates things for the backs.

"They are two outstanding players who we have to be really on our guard against.

"You are never going to make a great player have a poor game, you just don't want them to have an outstanding game."

Wales boss Rob Howley is due to announce his team on Wednesday, with any changes likely to be kept at a minimum.

Number eight Taulupe Faletau and lock Luke Charteris both appear on course to start for the first time in this season's tournament, but that could be the total extent of any switches.

Edwards added: "We have had some great tussles with them (Ireland) over the years, so we will be picking our best team to win this game. It is a Test match against Ireland, so bring it on.

"They came out of the traps slow against Scotland (in Ireland's first Six Nations game) and paid the price.

"Since then, they have scored a lot of points, averaging 34 points a game, and scored 41 points to beat the All Blacks back in the autumn.

"I think they are the highest points scorers in the competition at the moment, so defensively we have certainly got our hands full.

"They are the kind of team who keep the ball for very long periods. It is very difficult to get the ball back off Ireland. They are relentless with their attack. Obviously, they have got two excellent half-backs guiding them around the park."

How to Complain

If you have a complaint about the editorial content of the Belfast Telegraph or Sunday Life then contact the Editor here. If you are not satisfied with the response provided then you can contact the Independent Press Standards Organisation here

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph