British & Irish Lions 2017: George North has one Test to perform - Sir John Kirwan

Lions coach Warren Gatland congratulates wing George North after the win over Crusaders
John Kirwan says that Lions coach Warren Gatland knows George North 'can deliver'

George North should start for the British and Irish Lions in Saturday's first Test against New Zealand, says All Blacks wing great Sir John Kirwan.

But Kirwan believes the Wales wing must perform at Eden Park or face being frozen out by coach Warren Gatland.

"I don't think George North is in form, but Warren Gatland knows that he can deliver," said Kirwan.

"I think he'll give North one Test and he needs to show some of that quality in that first Test."

Wales lost all three Tests when they toured New Zealand in 2016, but North's performances were a bright spot for the visitors.

"Last year when the Welsh were here he cut us up... I just think he's got the quality," said Kirwan, 52, who scored 35 tries in 96 Tests for New Zealand.

"If I was George North, I'd be working a lot more off the ball.

"I'd be blowing up at the half-backs to use me, I'd be turning up around the rucks when the forwards start to get tired.

"When the half-back runs and you're turning up in and around the place, you're going to get the ball eventually.

"If you want to get your hands on the ball then sometimes you've got to go and get it."

New Zealand wing John Kirwan takes on Lions centre Scott Gibbs
Wing John Kirwan scored 35 tries in 96 Tests for New Zealand

North - who started all three Tests and scored two tries in the victorious 2013 Lions tour to Australia - was not involved in Tuesday's final midweek game before the series with the All Blacks begins, as the Lions beat the Chiefs 34-6 in Hamilton.

That pointed to the 25-year-old Northampton wing being kept fresh for Saturday's Test opener in Auckland, along with England wing Anthony Watson and Wales full-back Leigh Halfpenny.

However, England wing pair Elliot Daly and Jack Nowell - who scored two tries - put down markers against the Chiefs for inclusion in the match-day Test squad, as did Wales full-back or wing Liam Williams.

"For me it's pretty clear cut, although they might do some mix and match with Williams," Kirwan added.

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"The Lions are struggling for full-backs. They've had a couple of injuries, they tried [Ireland centre or full-back] Jared Payne there and it just didn't work out."

Williams was sin-binned in the second game of the Lions' tour, a 22-16 defeat by the Blues on 7 June, for making contact with Matt Duffie in the air.

Kirwan said: "I think Liam is a great footballer, he's played well although he was unfortunate against the Blues.

"He's a really good player, but I think he's playing possibly for the bench and then if North's not on form 50 minutes into the first Test, they'll throw him out there."

The Lions will announce their team for the first Test at 20:00 BST on Wednesday, 21 June.

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