South Africa v Wales: George North on course to start

George North
George North won the Amlin Cup and English Premiership with Northampton

Hopes have been raised that George North will start Wales' first Test against South Africa on Saturday.

The British and Irish Lions wing, 22, had been isolated from the rest of the squad after spending most of the week confined to his bed with a virus.

But North came through a training session on Friday morning, pleasing backs coach Rob Howley.

"He came through it very well and I'm delighted to say he's raring to go," said Howley.

North was withdrawn from the squad for the 34-12 win over Eastern Province Kings on Tuesday, having been named on the bench.

He has been closely monitored by the Wales medical staff and kept apart from the rest of the team for the past few days.

"Obviously it's been a difficult and different week for him but our medical team have looked after him. He's been hydrated. He's had some fuel on board," said Howley.

"As you can imagine, having not trained for the last couple of days he's feeling a little but rough, but he's got 36 hours now and ready to go."

Even if the Northampton Saints back does start against the Springboks, coach Warren Gatland admits it is unlikely that North will finish the match.

Speaking on Thursday, Gatland said: "If he does take the field he's probably going to struggle a bit for 80 minutes."

Wales Today's Ashleigh Crowter looks at the Welsh side selected to face South Africa in the first Test on Saturday

As for the rest of the squad, Dan Lydiate is included and joins Aaron Shingler in the back row, while uncapped back Matthew Morgan is on the bench.

Scarlets' Shingler will wear the number seven jersey made available by shoulder injuries to regular captain Sam Warburton and Justin Tipuric.

Scrum-half Gareth Davies will understudy Racing Metro's Mike Phillips. Osprey Morgan joins 75-cap James Hook in also covering behind the scrum.

Prop Adam Jones is in line to make his 100th international appearance at Growthpoint Kings Park in Durban, earning his 95th cap to go with five British and Irish Lions Tests.

He is joined in the front row by Gethin Jenkins, who will be winning his 106th cap, and Scarlets hooker Ken Owens.

Luke Charteris partners captain Alun Wyn Jones in the second-row in an experienced pack that also contains Taulupe Faletau at number eight.

The back line boasts five Lions, with Mike Phillips and Dan Biggar at half-back, Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies in the midfield, North and Alex Cuthbert on the wings and Liam Williams at full-back.

The front-row alternatives on the bench include hooker Matthew Rees, 33, who has fought back after undergoing testicular cancer treatment, Bath's Paul James and Samson Lee.

British and Irish Lion Ian Evans and Josh Turnbull complete the forward options.


South Africa: Willie le Roux, Cornal Hendricks, JP Pietersen, Jan Serfontein, Bryan Habana, Morné Steyn, Fourie du Preez; Gurthrö Steenkamp, Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis, Bakkies Botha, Victor Matfield (captain), Francois Louw, Willem Alberts, Duane Vermeulen.

Replacements: Schalk Brits, Tendai Mtawarira, Coenie Oosthuizen, Lood de Jager, Schalk Burger, Ruan Pienaar, Johan Goosen Lwazi Mvovo.

Wales: Liam Williams, Alex Cuthbert, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, George North, Dan Biggar, Mike Phillips, Gethin Jenkins, Ken Owens, Adam Jones, Luke Charteris, Alun Wyn Jones (captain), Dan Lydiate, Aaron Shingler, Taulupe Faletau.

Replacements: Matthew Rees, Paul James, Samson Lee, Ian Evans, Josh Turnbull, Gareth Davies, James Hook, Matthew Morgan.

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