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North hails Savea

Wales star George North has hailed the "exceptional" ability of New Zealand try machine Julian Savea.

Both players are set to be among the major box-office attractions when Wales host the All Blacks next Saturday.

Between them, they have scored 48 Test tries, but North's fellow wing Savea has 29 of those from just 32 international appearances.

It is a staggering strike-rate, and one that is not lost on North.

"He is exceptional. He is a brilliant example of how to impose yourself on a game," North said.

"He pops up left, right and centre. You have to watch to work out what to do, but learn from him as well.

"The All Blacks have shown over the past few weeks that they can win Test matches when they are really feeling the heat.

"They are deservedly number one in the world, and we have to step up our game massively for the weekend."

Wales have not beaten New Zealand since 1953, and given the sub-standard nature of their performance against Fiji two days ago, they will not be widely expected to end that long losing sequence this time around.

Although Wales defeated the South Sea Islanders 17-13 - North was among their try-scorers - they did not register a point after half-time despite Fiji having prop Campese Ma'afu sent off.

"You are aware of what's coming, and you work even harder," North added. "There is no bigger challenge than the All Blacks.

"The All Blacks have a great game-plan. They've got players who can get over the gain-line, and they've got boys who are very good in the air and have great skills. They won't bring anything less than that on the weekend.

"The boys are really excited for the next two games (against New Zealand and South Africa).

"It wasn't ideal to go into this game on the back of that performance against Fiji, but it is better to go in with a win rather than a loss.

"Everyone has held their hands up and we've said that we need to do better. We went out there believing in how we were set up and how we wanted to play, but we just didn't get into our own rhythm.

"You don't want to make eye contact with anyone in the debrief after a match like that.

"It's part of the job. You are flying high on the good days and want to talk to everyone, but when the dark days come and you haven't been performing, you have to man up and take it on the chin.

"A few boys, myself included, know that we didn't perform as well as we should have with the space and time we had. You kick yourself when you look back over a lot of things, but you have to take it on the chin and make it right in the next game.

"Everyone involved on the weekend knew that the turnovers came from silly mistakes and they were schoolboy errors. The players are harder than anyone on themselves.

"I am very hard on myself, and those basic skills shouldn't be a worry at this level. We had 23 turnovers from knock-ons, and you can't afford to do that at this level with New Zealand and South Africa coming up."


From Belfast Telegraph