Wales powerhouse George North back to give South Africa a headache

First published in Sport

WALES are hoping that George North can make South Africa feel queasy after dragging himself off his sick bed to lead their charge for a historic win against the Springboks.

The 22-year-old had been a doubt for this afternoon's first Test in Durban after being struck down by a virus.

He was a late withdrawal from the matchday squad that beat Eastern Province Kings on Tuesday and has been unable to take a full part in training.

But North took part in final preparations at Kings Park and will line up on the left wing, giving his teammates a massive boost as they attempt to record a first Welsh win on South African soil.

North burst onto the Test scene by scoring a brace against today's opponents and has a record of 21 tries in 43 international appearances.

His combination of power, cunning and pace will be a vital weapon as they look to exploit some areas of relative Springbok weakness.

The hosts are fielding a rookie midfield of Jan Serfontein and wing JP Pietersen with sevens specialist Cornal Hendricks making his Test bow opposite North.

"South Africa will remember his debut against them in 2010 when he scored two tries," said assistant coach Rob Howley.

"He is a world-class player, and you need your world-class players against a side of the calibre of the Springboks."

But Howley admits North is unlikely to be able to last a full 80 minutes, meaning Wales will need to shuffle their back-three resources at some stage.

"We will take the decision from the player and I am sure George will communicate with us in terms of how he is feeling after 50 to 60 minutes.

"The one thing in international rugby is you have to be flat out, that is part of the intensity and the pressure and it will be even greater today."

Howley captained the only Welsh side to have beaten the Springboks, leading his side to a 29-19 win in the first game at the Millennium Stadium in 1999.

But the former scrum-half reckons coaching a Welsh side to beat South Africa would top that achievement.

"It would mean everything to me, much more than as a player," he said. "As a player there is a selfishness you have about professional rugby.

"When you become a coach it is about the team and the players and giving them the best opportunity to perform.

"We started the tour with a win against the Eastern Province Kings. We know it is a step up but we are really looking forward to a great challenge, which is what you always get when you face South Africa."

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