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Six Nations Rugby: George North is out to prove his worth for Wales

By James Candy

Wales juggernaut George North plans to show to Warren Gatland he was right to reinstate him by terrorising Ireland.

The 50-cap wing was the target of criticism from the Kiwi coach after some under-par performances in the Autumn.

But the 6ft 4in Northampton star roared back to form against France, carrying the ball further than any other Welsh player in the 20-13 triumph.

And he is desperate to deliver another bruising display in a bid to stop Ireland's grand-slam tilt in it's tracks.

He said: "I felt that Paris was a step forward for me to where I want to be in a Welsh jersey and hopefully on Saturday I can push forward again and reward his trust.

"For me it's never a good point if the head coach is not happy with you, that's when you start getting dropped and stuff.

"We don't need to big the game up more than it is. It's a massive game for Ireland going for the Grand Slam and for us it will be a great test match here in Cardiff."

North has not beaten Ireland in his last two attempts, including the 22-30 defeat at the Millennium Stadium two seasons ago.

He watched in horror as his side were powerless to stop the men in green racing to a 23-3 half-time lead.

And North has told his teammates to shut down Joe Schmidt's kicking game-plan if they do not want to see a repeat in Cardiff.

"They spend a lot of time kicking and I don't think they will change that game plan massively but as much as they are a kicking threat they have got some very good backs and if you switch off for one minute they will take advantage," he said.

Wales would have to beat Ireland and then rack up the points in their final day clash with Italy if they are to secure another unlikely Six Nations crown.

And North is hoping to replicate their rivals' cutting edge approach as they look to end the grand slam dream. He said: "If you look at Ireland over the last couple of years in this fixture they have just been clinical.

"Over the past two years they have been very good at finishing games off. They take their chances when they can and we have lacked that composure when it has come to the crunch.

"They're 10 from 10 which is unbelievable. They have got a lot of confidence now, they execute their game plan very well and they are a side that knows what they want to do and where they want to go and everyone has bought into that ethos."

Meanwhile, Wales assistant coach Rob Howley confirmed during a press conference on Thursday that the roof would be open.

Even if Ireland had wanted the roof closed, it now makes no difference.

If there is disagreement between the teams, then the roof stays open. It can be only closed if both sides agree.

"It's open," Howley said.

"We've taken the decision it will be open. We wanted to know sooner, rather than later.

"The weather forecast is pretty good for the weekend, and it's something which we will look forward to."

Belfast Telegraph


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