Saints star North hoping for happy return to Scarlets

George North returns to Llanelli on Saturday determined to return to try-scoring form and to help Saints progress in the Champions Cup.

Thursday, 21st January 2016, 12:00 pm
George North faces his former club on Saturday (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

The 23-year-old Wales wing has just two tries for his club this season, on Boxing Day versus London Irish and two weeks later against Leicester.

Like a goalscorer in the midst of a lean run, North is frustrated, but knows his ability to cross the line is dependent on Saints’ game plan.

Utilising North on his first return to Parc y Scarlets, his former stomping ground, could go some way to securing the bonus-point win which would aid Saints’ chances of European progress.

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“It’s been unfortunate that I haven’t had the tries I’ve been hoping for,” North said.

“This time last season I was knocking on double figures. It’s one of those things.

“The way we’re playing at the moment isn’t really helping. I’ve been looking at my game and being totally harsh on myself.

“(But) I’ve not been playing a bad brand of rugby, I’ve been playing all right, putting myself in the right areas and just not being used.

“I’m there to do a job and if I can’t do that it gets a bit annoying.

“For me, it’s only going to make me better as a player long-term, knowing how to adapt now and make myself better, better used and more efficient for the team.”

When North met the Scarlets in November, Saints winning 15-11 at Franklin’s Gardens, the only impact he made on the scoreboard was in being sin-binned.

“It wasn’t my finest day getting a yellow card, my first one,” he added.

The Scarlets are already out of Europe, while Saints are second behind Racing Metro and need a win and to hope other results go their way to advance from Pool Three as one of three best runners-up.

“We’ve got to win there and win well,” North added.

“If we can get the five points that puts us in a better position than just the win.

“For me it’s quite exciting. It’s the first time I’ve played there since leaving (in summer 2013).

“I’ve got a lot of fond memories there, some good friends. It’s something we’re looking forward to, because we’re going down there with a purpose now, to keep our European hopes alive.”

North will be eager to make an impression with Wales’ RBS 6 Nations campaign beginning in Ireland on February 7.

Wales have won the Six Nations and completed Grand Slams in the two most recent post-World Cup tournaments, in 2008 and 2012.

“History says Wales have got good results straight after a World Cup, so hopefully we can continue that,” North added.

Wales’ World Cup hopes were hampered by injuries, but they still advanced from a tough pool behind Australia and at the expense of England before exiting in the quarter-finals with defeat to South Africa.

Wales’ playing resources were tested by injuries, but North feels the strength in depth was evident, standing Wales in good stead for the forthcoming Six Nations.

He added: “In our hour of need the squad came through. When that first line of your starters gets injured and necessity kicked in it showed, those boys really stepped up.”