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Gatland praises young Scarlet

Guinness PRO12 Editor

20 Oct 2010


Warren Gatland has praised Scarlets young gun George North after selecting him for next month’s autumn internationals.

North has set the Magners League season alight this year with four tries in five games and Gatland has rewarded the 18-year-old with the chance to look horns with the world's best.

The 6ft 4in, 16-and-a-half stone flyer scored a braced of tries on his Magners League debut against Benetton Treviso on the opening day of the season and has since followed that with scores against Aironi and the Dragons.

And Gatland is confident that North is ready to deliver on the international stage as Wales talk on Australia, South Africa, Fiji and New Zealand at the Millennium Stadium.

"He's an incredibly exciting prospect. We can't ignore his form, he's scoring tries and that's a wing's job," said Gatland.

"George has been very impressive and, looking at our wings, we need some physicality.

"He has been scoring tries, he's quick and very powerful. The other Scarlets lads have told me he's probably the most powerful player they have in the gym.

"The last time I saw a pair of thighs like that was on some of the Samoans back in New Zealand."

Wales legend and current kicking coach Neil Jenkins echoed those sentiments as North looks to establish himself alongside the likes of Ospreys star Shane Williams and Blues wing Leigh Halfpenny ahead of what should be a thrilling series of Tests against the world’s three leading teams and Wales’ 2007 World Cup conquerors.

"He's a fantastic player, big and physical and a little bit different to out other wings. He's good on his feet and reads the game very well for a young guy," added Jenkins.

North suffered a stress fracture to his ankle earlier this month and will miss Friday night’s Magners League derby with the Blues but Gatland is confident the youngster will recover in time to win his first cap against South Africa or Fiji.

"Unfortunately he's picked up an injury which will maybe limit him for the first game but hopefully he will come through with an extra few weeks and be in contention for the rest."