Rugby World Cup 2011: George North ready to match Samoa power

Rugby World Cup Pool D: Wales v Samoa

Venue:
Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
Date:
Sunday, 18 September
Kick-off:
0430 BST / 1530 NZ
Coverage:
Scores and reports on the BBC Sport website plus live text commentaries on selected games including all home nations matches; updates on BBC Radio 5 live and BBC Radio Wales; watch live on ITV1/ITV4 & S4C; listen on TalkSport radio & BBC Radio Cymru.
George North takes on the South Africa defence
George North has scored six tries in nine appearances for Wales

George North hopes to give Samoa a taste of their own bone-crunching force when Wales tackle the South Sea islanders in Sunday's World Cup match.

At 6ft 3in and 15st, wing North has been described as being "built like a Samoan" by Wales coach Warren Gatland.

And while respecting the Samoan power, North said Wales will not be intimated by their size or strength.

"I'm not sure about being Samoan, I'm more north Walian really - I reckon I'm my own breed," joked the 19-year-old.

"Fingers crossed I'll get the ball in some space and do some damage."

Samoa are indelibly etched on the Wales rugby psyche, having won the two previous World Cup encounters in 1991 and 1999.

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Wales greats Scott Gibbs and Garin Jenkins look back at their World Cup defeats to Samoa

But the size of the task facing Gatland's men in Hamilton on Sunday is arguably far tougher than those previous World Cup upsets.

Samoa gave notice of their destructive potential with a 32-23 win in July over Australia, albeit against an understrength Wallabies side.

And the power and flair were again evident on Wednesday as they opened their Pool D campaign with an emphatic 49-12 win over Namibia.

"It's always the tradition that they are the bigger side but the condition we're in now, hopefully we can match them and take it to them," added North, who won his ninth cap in Sunday's 17-16 defeat to South Africa.

"But you can't rule them out. They will be physical, they will be fit and they will be looking to play.

"It will be a different challenge [to South Africa]. They won't be as mobile around the pitch but they will be fit as well.

"Fingers crossed we'll have some possession and we can be a bit more clinical with it."

Samoa's Alesana Tuilagi
Samoa's Alesana Tuilagi smashes through the Namibia defence to score one of his three tries

Few changes are expected to the Wales team from the XV that came close to toppling defending champions South Africa.

Fly-half Stephen Jones and prop Gethin Jenkins are available after injury, but former captain Gwyn Jones says the pack should stay the same.

"The scrum is massive against Samoa because we've got to control the contest there," said the former flanker.

"We've got to control the pace of the game and win penalties at the scrum.

"[Prop] Paul James did an excellent job against the Boks so I'd put Gethin on the bench if he's fit, but only if he's fit."

North was not born when Wales fell to Western Samoa in the 1991 World Cup - a match described by wing legend Ieuan Evans as the worst day of his career.

And the Scarlets winger remembers nothing of the 1999 debacle in Cardiff.

North's international record stands at three wins from nine games, but he sees himself as being part of new breed of Welsh players, led by the ever-improving flanker and captain Sam Warburton, who believe they are world-beaters.

"We have to take that type of confidence with us," said North, who scored two tries on his Wales debut against South Africa.

"We can't go into games thinking we're not going to win because nine times out of 10 we won't [with that mentality].

"The amount of talent and skill we've got at the moment, and the condition we're in, we've got a great chance of winning."

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