North ready to make up for lost time with Lions


George North is confident his familiarity with Warren Gatland and numerous members of the British and Irish Lions squad will help him overcome reduced preparation time for the tour of New Zealand.

North arrived in Auckland with the Lions on Wednesday, but his involvement in pre-tour planning was limited by the participation of his club side, Northampton Saints, in the European Champions Cup play-offs. 

While the wing concedes this leaves him with ground to make up, he expects to benefit from having played frequently for Gatland with Wales and the 2013 Lions.

North, an ambassador for Gillette, who are an official partner of the Lions' tour, told Omnisport: "In 2013, I attended all the [pre-tour] camps and completely focused on the mindset of what Gats wanted to play, and the way the coaches wanted to play.

"This time it was a bit difficult because I was with Northampton, so I was keeping my ear to the ground, trying to keep up as much as I could with all the bits of information. 

"I think the fact that obviously I know a lot of the boys anyway and have played under Gats for many years, hopefully that will cut down my learning time.

"And then from my point of view it's basically just homework, homework, homework, catch up on what I've missed, make sure I understand what my role is within the squad and then basically just work as hard as I can."

North, who hopes the Lions can use their successful 2013 trip to Australia as "a springboard" for success over the coming weeks, is not concerned by a gruelling schedule that will see Gatland's tourists play 10 matches in five weeks, starting with an opener against the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians on Saturday.

""I think some people look at it as a bad thing, having all these games to warm up with, but I think it's a good thing," added the 25-year-old, who already boasts 72 Test caps.

"It's a great challenge, it gives us time to work out combinations, work out plays and a mindset from there, and I think it gives us the best preparation to play those three Tests.

"Obviously the NZ provincial sides are flying and that's an understatement - they're playing some really good rugby, and the fact we have to play them before playing the Test side is great for us to get in the right place.

"The more you get the opportunity to practice and make sure everything is ready, you can go into the Tests really confident then."


Visit @GilletteUK on Twitter for information on how you can win an all-expenses paid trip to New Zealand to watch the first Test between the All Blacks and the Lions.