Friday 23 March 2018

George North apologetic for finger-wagging celebration

British and Irish Lions' George North gestures on his way to scoring his incredible try
British and Irish Lions' George North gestures on his way to scoring his incredible try

Ian Ransom

George North's stunning try in the first test against Australia was the crowning moment of a memorable Lions debut but the Welsh winger can only groan about the triumphant finger he wagged in Will Genia's face.

Taking a high kick from Australia fullback Berrick Barnes in his own half, North jinked through several defenders in a breathtaking run down the left wing, then pointed at the Australia scrumhalf in his wake, before crossing the line.

The jet-heeled 21-year-old said he had copped a "lot of stick" from team mates for the gesture and had apologised to Genia, one of the game's finest scrumhalves and most respected players.

"I've had a few words from various people but I've apologised and can't really explain why I did it," North told reporters in Melbourne on Friday on the eve of the crunch second test at Docklands Stadium.

"It was very difficult and I just got caught up in the whole emotion of a test match and scoring my first try.

"Looking back, I do feel horrendous about doing it, but I will have to live with it now. I'll have to take it on the chin.

"I had big words from Andy Irvine (team manager) which was fun. Rugby is a gentleman's game and that shouldn't be involved in the game and Andy spoke to me about that afterwards.

"I know I was out of line in terms of sportsmanship and rugby and I feel bad about that."

If Genia was unimpressed by the gesture, he did well to hide it on Friday, joking that he was "eating" grass at the time but might extend North the same courtesy if he scored a try and the Wallabies won.

North's battle with Wallabies winger Israel Folau lit up a packed Lang Park in the Lions' 23-21 win, with the former rugby league international scoring a brace of tries in a brilliant test debut.

The first saw Folau bat away a North tackle before cantering over the line, which Lions coach Warren Gatland on Thursday said had been "addressed".

North said Folau's rugby league experience and stint in Australian Rules football had shown itself out on the ground with his hard-running and superb aerial skills.

"I was very impressed with how it all came together for him in last week's test," North said.

"He's a running threat, he's good in the air and difficult to read as well. We saw that on the weekend, we just hope he doesn't do it again."

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