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George North enjoying new lease of life as Wales star gears up for 99th Test appearance in France

George North’s blinkers are off as he gallops towards his 100th Test.  

The new father has had his eyes opened to a new world since he last donned Welsh red, and feels more at ease ahead of his 99th international against France in Paris today.

In lockdown his wife, the former Olympic cyclist Becky James, gave birth to Jac and North world changed forever.

Georeg North has lived his life in the spotlight since since his two-try debut as a teenager

‘It’s everything isn’t it?’ he says when asked about what has altered since his son’s arrival.

‘I don’t know how to explain it. For the past 10, 11 years of professional rugby it’s always been about me and what I have to do to get ready for Saturday.

‘Obviously that is still as important as ever, but when you have a small human that relies on you for everything, it makes you realise that in the grand scheme of things it is just a game and you have a family to protect and take care of. It certainly puts rugby on a level.

‘It’s brilliant that I can go home and have family time, but in the same breath it’s wicked that I can still go away and play for my country, to play rugby and have that balance.’ 

North has been in the spotlight for a decade now, since his storming two-try debut as a teenager, and spoke before the cancelled Six Nations game against Scotland about the intense pressure constant scrutiny brings.

The new father has had his eyes opened to a new world since he last donned Welsh red

The new father has had his eyes opened to a new world since he last donned Welsh red

Now he is more at ease.

‘In a way it’s a different pressure now,’ he adds.

‘Can I change a nappy fast enough before he starts crying?

‘That’s real pressure now isn’t it? For me, normally when it comes to lads and their partners having children, you might only get two or three days before getting straight back into work.

‘I had nine weeks which I would never get in a normal situation. For me that’s priceless.

‘No shining light ever comes out of a pandemic, but for me that was the only good thing that I was able to have that time. I couldn’t put a price on that now.

North and his wife Becky shared a first public snap of baby Jac on social media

North and his wife Becky shared a first public snap of baby Jac on social media

‘My goals never really change. They just got put on hold a bit. You can’t really prepare for Covid and the effect it has had on not just sport but the world, and for me those goals are still my main focus. They are what drive me and with Jac coming along it takes a little bit of pressure off that.

‘Rugby is just a game but for me that is the reason we get up early, we put the hours in and go through everything to get that, so as such my goals haven’t really changed.

‘It is just making sure that I stay focused on them now.’ One goal that will surely be scored next week is his 100th international – if you include his three Lions appearances. Achieving that mark at 28 is a remarkable feat.

‘I know what you’re all thinking- I look old enough to do it, but I don’t feel it,’ North smiles ahead of the France friendly.

‘For me that is one of my biggest goals, having 100 caps for your country. When I started my career just to have one cap to my name would have bene more than enough.

‘I could have quite happily sat in the corner of the pub talking about that for years.

‘In that 100-cap bracket you go into a club not many people get to and hopefully I will achieve that and go on to achieve more but at the moment I am just looking forward to getting Saturday out of the way and get back into some rugby and some bruising and hopefully we can have a good autumn campaign.’ 

Adding to that focus is the fact that 19-year-old speedster Louis Rees-Zammit, on the bench, is hot on North’s heels. Wales boss Wayne Pivac sees this as an autumn of renewal, and will give young blood a go.

‘Zamm has been playing incredibly well,’ says North.

‘If you look at the back three we have got at the moment, Zamm is putting the pressure on across the whole backline to really fight for our positions.

‘Hopefully he will get his first cap. I’m sure that will be the first of many, many for him.’ North intends to keep going too, freer now his eyes have been opened.

‘It’s everything, isn’t it?’ he said when asked about what has altered since his son’s arrival.

‘I don’t know how to explain it. For the past 10, 11 years of professional rugby it’s always been about me and what I have to do to get ready for Saturday.

‘Obviously that is still as important as ever, but when you have a small human that relies on you for everything, it makes you realise that in the grand scheme of things it is just a game and you have a family to take care of. It certainly puts rugby on a level.

‘It’s brilliant that I can go home and have family time, but in the same breath it’s wicked that I can still go away and play for my country, to play rugby and have that balance.’

North will play a 100th international this autumn and cannot wait to join the centurions.

‘For me that is one of my biggest goals, having 100 caps for your country,’ he added.

‘When I started my career just to have one cap to my name would have been more than enough.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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