North relishes battle with Savea

Date published: June 7 2016

Wales wing George North believes the 27-13 loss to England at Twickenham two weeks ago could be the key needed to front-up against New Zealand.

In the past North has been in Wales sides who have gone on tour over the June international window, without a warm-up match, and paid the price. 

Despite being outscored by the Six Nations champions by five tries to one, the Northampton Saints speedster feels happy about the run out.

"We needed the match against England, even though it wasn't the perfect game," North told the official WRU website.

"From a playing point of view, and from the way we want to play, we knew we had to up our game speed and our tempo.

"We went out there on the back of two weeks of hard training and I think that showed. We fronted up for a large portion of the game, but then we just lost it towards the end. But we needed that to prepare ourselves for the challenge ahead. 

"New Zealand are the world champions, there is no way of getting around that, and you can't ignore the success they've had over the last few years and the style they play."

Wales have played New Zealand 12 times and have lost all of them, the closest that Warren Gatland's troops came to a win was in 2004 when the All Blacks narowly edged them by 26-25 at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

"They are the world's best, but we just have to go in with the mindset that it is 15 v 15. If we come out on top man-for-man then the result will go our way," North added.

"We'll have to make sure that we are on our mettle and ready for the challenge because we know that anything less than our best will mean we don't get the result we want."

North was just 18 years old when he first faced the All Blacks in Cardiff six years ago, and this weekend's game at Eden Park could be the first of six assignments against the world champions in the space of a year should he get selected for the British and Irish Lions tour of the Land of the Long White Cloud in 2017.

Which means a possible series of head-to-head clashes with powerful Hurricanes wing Julian Savea.

North has scored 29 tries in 64 Tests for Wales and the British and Irish Lions, while the 25-year-old Savea has amassed 38 in his 41 appearances for the All Blacks.

"Savea is a massive part of their team and he presents massive challenges, as does the whole of their back line. It will be good to see where we are at the end of it," added North.

"We want to beat the best team in the world – that is that we are aspiring to do. It is a huge task, we all know that, especially after what has been a long season.

"Playing against the World champions at home is always going to be a massive task and having a three Test series in such a short period is tough. But we are all ready for it and looking forward to getting started."

As well as the warm-up match against England, North also believes the fact Wales arrived in New Zealand 10 days ahead of the first Test has been hugely beneficial.

"We needed this time to come over and get rid of the jet lag, which has been horrendous for a few of the boys. It has given us a chance to get really settled and to turn our minds to the first Test on Saturday," he said.