George North not thinking about international retirement

By Sports Desk November 03, 2023

George North says he is not contemplating following the likes of fellow Wales stars Leigh Halfpenny and Dan Biggar into international retirement.

Halfpenny, Alun Wyn Jones and Justin Tipuric are the centre of attention when Wales face Principality Stadium opponents the Barbarians on Saturday.

Jones, who made a world record 158 Test match appearances for Wales, captains a Barbarians team that features 93 times-capped flanker Tipuric among his colleagues.

And full-back Halfpenny, with 101 caps under his belt, is set for a final Wales outing before moving to the southern hemisphere, where he is expected to join Super Rugby giants the Crusaders.

Fly-half Biggar, meanwhile, left the international stage following Wales’ World Cup campaign in France and continues to play for Top 14 club Toulon.

At 31, centre North can reflect on a Wales career that has yielded 118 caps and 47 tries, but his appetite for more remains firmly intact.

“I felt like I was really happy with my performance in the World Cup,” said North, who will partner Johnny Williams in Wales’ midfield this weekend.

“(I am) still competing, so for me, I am very much still wanting to play and compete for that jersey. It is still a huge part of me and a big driver for me.

“If the boss (Wales head coach Warren Gatland) keeps picking me, I will keep doing the best I can.

“It is obviously a sad day to be losing them. They are big characters and big players for us and have delivered on numerous occasions in big games that people still talk about now.

“But that is the evolution of rugby and you have got to keep up with the curve.

“I think we saw in the World Cup a number of younger players putting their hands up and taking a step forward. It is time for these boys to get that exposure and get into Test match rugby.”

North, meanwhile, has paid glowing tributes to Jones, Tipuric and Halfpenny as he prepares to share a big-match stage with them for a final time.

“Al is a guy I’ve known for many years and played alongside,” he added.

“He is an absolute Trojan horse, what he has given to Welsh rugby over the, what is it, 25-30 years he has been playing! For Al to have his last game at home, playing against Wales, is special for him.

“I think Justin is probably one of the best players I’ve played with, his understanding of the game, how best to apply himself and one of the fittest players.

“He could play anywhere. Some people say he could play from full-back to back-row and I am sure he could do a better job than most of us.

“Leigh is another awesome servant of Welsh rugby, a close friend of mine and a brother in arms.

“He literally leaves no stone unturned and he goes out of his way to help anyone and everyone. For Leigh to finish at home is special for him and his family and he has got an exciting next step as well.”

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