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George North.

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Post by Biltong Tue 06 Dec 2011, 10:54 am

Wings are the royalty of rugby, well I grew up believing that, when I was a young man we had the Prince of wings Carel du Plessis. He wasn’t bad at all, but I often thought he was called the prince of wings because of his attitude, met him a few times in 1986 as I was working for a bank just after my national service and he was a client. He had a certain air about him.

There is an old adage that says forwards win matches and back line players decide by how much. Well we look over the career of Shane Williams and although I was never in awe of the guy, he did have some special abilities.

So he has now retired from International rugby with a rather decent record of 61 tries in 91 international matches. Welsh fans will now be looking toward the future and search for their next try scoring genius and at this stage it seems George North leads the polls as the next big thing (certainly in the physical stakes).

It remains to be seen whether he will be able to emulate Shane Williams though. Young enough he may be to get close or over the 100 test caps mark as at age 19 he could get there provided he remains injury free for the most part.

As I seldom see the European guys play, apart from the world cup and Autumn internationals, I can safely say that it is with difficulty that I can impart an opinion on most European players.

Fortunately as far as George North is concerned I have seen most of his matches and feel I can provide an objective opinion about the young man.

He came onto the international scene with quite a bang scoring 2 tries on debut against the Springboks. Granted he scored both those tries untouched, as the first one was simply running in at the angle, receive the pass and go through untouched and the second one was merely a pin point kick that had to be taken in the corner and dot the ball down. He still had to be in the right position at the right time though.

He then had a bit of a drought as he didn’t score a try in the next three matches Wales played against Fiji, New Zealand and France. The fact is Wales only scored 1 try in those three matches, so not much of the discredit could be aimed at him.

In his fifth match against the Barbarians he scored his third try. What I would like to know if anyone can answer me is why do Welsh players receive an international cap for playing the Barbarians when no one else do?

In his next five matches he scored 2 tries against England, then none in the next match, then 1 against Argentina then none against South Africa and Samoa.
The routing of Namibia and Fiji provided him the opportunity to score three more tries during the pool stages of the world cup, but since then he has not scored another try facing Australia twice, Ireland and France once each.

The fact is that wingers rely on their backlines and forwards to provide them ball they can turn into points and although the modern winger is brought into the game a lot more due to the style of play and running angles attacking teams use these days, they still cannot only be measured in the context of how many tries they score per match.

New Zealand scores the most tries per match and hence you would expect their players to have higher conversion ratios on tries per match than any other team.
I want to use Bryan Habana as an example of this. Under Jake White and with Butch James as the regular fly half, he scored 30 tries in 35 test matches, an incredible ratio of tries per test match. Since Pieter de Villiers and Morne Steyn, Bryan Habana has only scored 10 tries in 38 tests.

So the playing style of a team is crucial to the ability for a winger to score tries.

Now we all now George north is a big lad, with pace to burn and an eye for a gap, but the problem for many newcomers to the international scene is that after their first season on the big stage, the opposition get to analyse each player’s strengths and weaknesses, and perhaps this is the reason why George has not been as prolific in the try scoring stakes. What Welsh fans need to consider is not to put the weight of expectation on his young shoulders, as the hype surrounding him can create additional pressure for him to perform, and often players struggle with the weight of expectation on their shoulders.

George North is still a young man and had a decent start to his career, but he needs time to develop as many of the new guns for Wales need to do, and in time he will be able to get used to the pressures of expectation.

He is a good balanced runner, strong in the tackle and have the ability to remain on his feet for the offload, perhaps he could still work on his positional play and the awareness and ability to read a match, but overall a few years of maturity is necessary for him to build enough experience, as experience will undoubtedly increase his ability allround.
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Post by Geordie Tue 06 Dec 2011, 11:01 am

He came onto the international scene with quite a bang scoring 2 tries on debut against the Springboks. Granted he scored both those tries untouched, as the first one was simply running in at the angle, receive the pass and go through untouched and the second one was merely a pin point kick that had to be taken in the corner and dot the ball down. He still had to be in the right position at the right time though.

Surely the fact that he "ran at an angle" would suggest the lad actually had brains aswell as braun....

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Post by HERSH Tue 06 Dec 2011, 11:09 am

The way he plays he won't get anywhere near 100 caps.
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Post by munkian Tue 06 Dec 2011, 11:10 am

In his fifth match against the Barbarians he scored his third try. What I would like to know if anyone can answer me is why do Welsh players receive an international cap for playing the Barbarians when no one else do?

Wasn't it an annivesary of the WRU match and it was a one off capped match ? I don't think capped games playing agaisnt the Baa Baas is the norm.

Biltong - The amzing thing is , due to injury, I think North has played more international games than he has club games so has had to learn at the deep end arm bands off, no feet on the floor.

If he gets regular games week in week out he'll pick more of the skills you talked about Run
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Post by rodders Tue 06 Dec 2011, 11:16 am

HERSH wrote:The way he plays he won't get anywhere near 100 caps.

Yeah I don't think so either but I think he could get 70-80 plus and I could see him getting 40 plus international tries if he stays injury free.

I think he's an exceptional talent. He's a phenomenal athlete and pretty smart too and well rounded for a player so inexperienced and young. I think he may more to 13 at some stage which would prolong his career.
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Post by bedfordwelsh Tue 06 Dec 2011, 11:23 am

The amount of games teams play these days he will soon rack up the caps if he stays fit but that amount of games could in itself limit his caps as well due to burn out or more chances of getting injured etc.

At 19 he should get well into the 80s for caps
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Post by Geordie Tue 06 Dec 2011, 11:41 am

Yeah rodders i can see him go to 13 aswell....

Imagine him and Roberts in the midfield....ouch...

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Post by munkian Tue 06 Dec 2011, 11:54 am

GeordieFalcon wrote:Yeah rodders i can see him go to 13 aswell....

Imagine him and Roberts in the midfield....ouch...

Might struggle as neither is particularly creative
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Post by rodders Tue 06 Dec 2011, 11:58 am

munkian wrote:
GeordieFalcon wrote:Yeah rodders i can see him go to 13 aswell....

Imagine him and Roberts in the midfield....ouch...

Might struggle as neither is particularly creative

Whats not creative about running over the top of the opposition defenders?
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Post by OzT Tue 06 Dec 2011, 12:13 pm

Didn't England tried that with a couple of imported centres? Probably too limited for international rugby, not many Lomu'esque players around any more

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Post by Metal Tiger Tue 06 Dec 2011, 12:27 pm

Yes... we imported Banahan from Jersey. Not the good Jersey next to New York, but the really overated expensive one to visit near France.

That didn't work out too well. Ooh the problems we had getting his work visa & residency sorted.

Maybe we should have tried nicking some Kiwis from League....
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Post by OzT Tue 06 Dec 2011, 12:39 pm

Hape?? Na, didn't think he made it too well. Smile

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Post by bedfordwelsh Tue 06 Dec 2011, 12:46 pm

Lets not go down the foreigner playing for England route as we all as bad as each other or have the rest of Wales forgotten the might JJ Hughes, Marinos and Luscombe.

Not to mention the others.

People in glass houses stones etc etc
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Post by munkian Tue 06 Dec 2011, 1:02 pm

Actually the more I read your post Biltong the only point I can see is 'young player will get better with experience shocker' Very Happy

Am I missing something old boy ?
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Post by Comfort Tue 06 Dec 2011, 1:06 pm

I actually dont think he'll move in off the wing. I know he spent the majority of his rugby at 13 in the age-grade, but he's playing exceptionally well on the wing.

we have the quintessential crashball merchant in Roberts at 12. We have Hughes (dragons) coming through as a genuinely exciting 13 and Adam Warren(scarlets)/Ashley Beck(ospreys) coming through as another 2 young exciting centres. Add to that Jonathon Davies seems to be first choice at 13 (understandably) and the talent of Scott Williams (already being recognised by Gatland) and I think North is needed on the wing, and thats where he'll stay. I like his coming back against the grain of play on angles off the 10's shoulder aswell, He'd lose that playing in the centre and its these angles and when he gets a bit of space out wide where the boy does real damage. Lets not take that away from him.

Still, for someone so young, hes already had reconstructive surgery on his shoulder. And hes a physical player, those injuries will occur throughout his career.

Lets enjoy his talent while we have it, he's only 19, his potential is limitless if you ask me as he has everything needed, but, how often have we seen players with potential like his go to waste somehow, now lets see him use it.

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Post by westernosprey Tue 06 Dec 2011, 1:08 pm

HERSH wrote:The way he plays he won't get anywhere near 100 caps.

Another Welsh wing that England are going to be very jealous of for 10 years+

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Post by Biltong Tue 06 Dec 2011, 1:10 pm

munkian wrote:Actually the more I read your post Biltong the only point I can see is 'young player will get better with experience shocker' Very Happy

Am I missing something old boy ?

Munkian, the point I am trying to get acrooss is in the early days of his test career last year there was the almost superhuman hype and expectation from Welsh fans, then after 10 matches he had something like 8 or nine tries and the expectation was that this will continue. although I beleive the lad has lots of talent and promise, it will not help him if the enthusiasm or expectation from the fans sweep him up into that type of unrealistic expectations.

Hence if he is allowed to grow and pick up experience he will definitely become a better player, which is ultimately what the welsh fans want, but without the pressure of expectation.
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Post by munkian Tue 06 Dec 2011, 1:25 pm

Ahhh, I seeee.

Its the same with any new young star player - the Welsh media are particylary bad for doing it but its the English press that seem to hype new talent up to the Nth degree, apply loads of pressure and delight in them not living up to the hype.

North is great raw talent - but no Shane
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Post by Geordie Tue 06 Dec 2011, 1:38 pm

westernosprey wrote:
HERSH wrote:The way he plays he won't get anywhere near 100 caps.

Another Welsh wing that England are going to be very jealous of for 10 years+

Another...?

Ah i think we're pretty solid in that region at the moment Osprey....

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Post by munkian Tue 06 Dec 2011, 1:45 pm

Why does Cueto keep getting picked then ? Very Happy

Hug
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Post by Feckless Rogue Tue 06 Dec 2011, 1:47 pm

Munkian, the point I am trying to get acrooss is in the early days of his test career last year there was the almost superhuman hype and expectation from Welsh fans

Oh that's not unique to George North. They do that with every talented young player they produce. Have you not heard that Wales "probably have the best backrow in the world" now?

The Welsh are the ultimate optimists of world rugby.
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Post by munkian Tue 06 Dec 2011, 1:51 pm

Feckless Rogue wrote:
Munkian, the point I am trying to get acrooss is in the early days of his test career last year there was the almost superhuman hype and expectation from Welsh fans

Oh that's not unique to George North. They do that with every talented young player they produce. Have you not heard that Wales "probably have the best backrow in the world" now?

The Welsh are the ultimate optimists of world rugby.

What's wrong with being optimistic ? We are also the most pessimistic fans so it evens out Wink

I think it's fair to say we can be optimistic about our young talented back row is it not ? It made th emuch hyped Ireland's look pedestrian
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Post by Geordie Tue 06 Dec 2011, 1:56 pm

munkian wrote:Why does Cueto keep getting picked then ? Very Happy

Hug

Ah now that is down to certain selection issues.....which will hopefully be corrected by the Next permanent Head Coach...

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Post by munkian Tue 06 Dec 2011, 2:02 pm

GeordieFalcon wrote:
munkian wrote:Why does Cueto keep getting picked then ? Very Happy

Hug

Ah now that is down to certain selection issues.....which will hopefully be corrected by the Next permanent Head Coach...


I guessed as much Smile
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Post by Feckless Rogue Tue 06 Dec 2011, 2:11 pm

munkian wrote:What's wrong with being optimistic ?

Nothing wrong with it at all if you ask me. Hug
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Post by bedfordwelsh Tue 06 Dec 2011, 2:46 pm


What's wrong with being optimistic ? We are also the most pessimistic fans so it evens out Wink

I think it's fair to say we can be optimistic about our young talented back row is it not ? It made th emuch hyped Ireland's look pedestrian [/quote]

Tut tut munkian you can't say that, SOB, Ferris and Heaslip are the best around aren't they and were going (note going) to wipe the floor with out young pups. Missed that part.
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Post by munkian Tue 06 Dec 2011, 2:58 pm

Now now Bedford, we've beat em twice on the bounce, no need to rub it in
Hug

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Post by Feckless Rogue Tue 06 Dec 2011, 3:22 pm

How dare you speak to your Irish overlords like that. We've given you two wins out of sympathy. Because we like you. But I'm afraid your going to be crushed in Dublin after this insolence. Run
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Post by HERSH Tue 06 Dec 2011, 3:28 pm

westernosprey wrote:
HERSH wrote:The way he plays he won't get anywhere near 100 caps.

Another Welsh wing that England are going to be very jealous of for 10 years+


He won't last 10 years as injuries will blight him as his too young to play the way he plays, and thats a shame. Sad
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Post by munkian Tue 06 Dec 2011, 3:48 pm

Feckless Rogue wrote:How dare you speak to your Irish overlords like that. We've given you two wins out of sympathy. Because we like you. But I'm afraid your going to be crushed in Dublin after this insolence. Run

Fair plaaaay !!!!
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Post by TycroesOsprey Tue 06 Dec 2011, 11:15 pm

biltongbek wrote:Wings are the royalty of rugby, .

Funnily enough I think England actually had a russian prince who played on the wing for them in the thirties but cant be bothered to look him up. However you clearly missed out on the Prince of centres Bleddyn Williams who played in the last welsh team to beat the Kiwis. And of course there has only ever been one king king Barry sombody or other Whistle .

As for North hes more than just power hes got guile and speed as well which makes him very dangerous indeed. Even so every time I see Alex Cuthbert play Impressed. He got his first cap against the ozzies coming on for North but I think he is going to make a name for himself in the six nations.

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Post by Rory_Gallagher Tue 06 Dec 2011, 11:27 pm

munkian wrote:
What's wrong with being optimistic ? We are also the most pessimistic fans so it evens out Wink

I think it's fair to say we can be optimistic about our young talented back row is it not ? It made th emuch hyped Ireland's look pedestrian

Can't remember anything about the Welsh backrow making the irish backrow look pedestrian. I do remember them shutting down SOB/Ferris's usual big runs, which is the only gameplan Ireland seemed to have. However Wales were actually not as dominant at the breakdown as some seem to think. In the first half Warburton was anonymous and our pack were dominating the breakdown. Then Ferris/SOB were continually used as battering rams, which was tiring them out and taking them out of the breakdown situation. Heaslip was in poor form also. The centres were the main problem in that game for Ireland, as we had no big or threatening runners. Just SOB and Ferris.

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Post by maestegmafia Tue 06 Dec 2011, 11:27 pm

Bleddyn Williams is still the best centre I have ever seen. Even in the modern era. He could do things that no mortal would think of. God I wish we had one player like him now.

Not only did he beat the all blacks with Wales on a saturday, but he and his mate Dr Jack beat them with Cardiff the week before.

Not many players have back to back victories over any all black team of any era in such a short space of time.

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Post by TycroesOsprey Wed 07 Dec 2011, 1:01 am

Aye Maes, captain of club, country and lions makes him one of the greats.

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Post by munkian Wed 07 Dec 2011, 8:59 am

Rory_Gallagher wrote:
munkian wrote:
What's wrong with being optimistic ? We are also the most pessimistic fans so it evens out Wink

I think it's fair to say we can be optimistic about our young talented back row is it not ? It made th emuch hyped Ireland's look pedestrian

Can't remember anything about the Welsh backrow making the irish backrow look pedestrian. I do remember them shutting down SOB/Ferris's usual big runs, which is the only gameplan Ireland seemed to have. However Wales were actually not as dominant at the breakdown as some seem to think. In the first half Warburton was anonymous and our pack were dominating the breakdown. Then Ferris/SOB were continually used as battering rams, which was tiring them out and taking them out of the breakdown situation. Heaslip was in poor form also. The centres were the main problem in that game for Ireland, as we had no big or threatening runners. Just SOB and Ferris.

Christ your memory is good for a game on at 6am ! - I guess when you win a lot of things just get blurred. Looking forward to the re-match at 6 nations thumbsup
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Post by HERSH Wed 07 Dec 2011, 3:02 pm

George North is overrated.
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Post by Rory_Gallagher Wed 07 Dec 2011, 3:39 pm

munkian wrote:
Rory_Gallagher wrote:
munkian wrote:
What's wrong with being optimistic ? We are also the most pessimistic fans so it evens out Wink

I think it's fair to say we can be optimistic about our young talented back row is it not ? It made th emuch hyped Ireland's look pedestrian

Can't remember anything about the Welsh backrow making the irish backrow look pedestrian. I do remember them shutting down SOB/Ferris's usual big runs, which is the only gameplan Ireland seemed to have. However Wales were actually not as dominant at the breakdown as some seem to think. In the first half Warburton was anonymous and our pack were dominating the breakdown. Then Ferris/SOB were continually used as battering rams, which was tiring them out and taking them out of the breakdown situation. Heaslip was in poor form also. The centres were the main problem in that game for Ireland, as we had no big or threatening runners. Just SOB and Ferris.

Christ your memory is good for a game on at 6am ! - I guess when you win a lot of things just get blurred. Looking forward to the re-match at 6 nations thumbsup

Hopefully with a new centre partnership, I will also be looking forward to it.

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Post by TycroesOsprey Wed 07 Dec 2011, 11:26 pm

looking back at that game, we won it through awesome defence, Ireland made a lot of handling errors and tactically some silly decisions in the first half and Mike Phillips broke their hearts with a moment of brilliance down the blindside. Ireland spent ages in our red zone but couldnt finsih it off.

Im really looking forward to the match in Dublin this year, I think it will be a cracker. Lets see if Polands ice box will have the same effect as in the RWC.

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Post by bedfordwelsh Thu 08 Dec 2011, 8:49 am

Warburton admitted after last weeks game that their fitness and physicaility levels had dropped since the WC so if will be interesting to see if they can get them back upto that level after few weeks 'back in camp' before the 6 Nations.

Ireland will be smarting after that game and we all know getting off to a winning start (especially at home) is so important in the 6 Nations.
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