Tuesday 23 October 2018

North fighting fit for Dublin showdown

North injured his knee in November, but has now put two full shifts in for his club as well as coming off the bench for Wales against England. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
North injured his knee in November, but has now put two full shifts in for his club as well as coming off the bench for Wales against England. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

He did major damage when the teams met last season and Wales wing George North looks fit and ready to take on Ireland again after coming through Northampton Saints' Premiership clash with London Irish on Saturday, scoring a try for good measure.

The Lion injured his knee in November, but has now put two full shifts in for his club as well as coming off the bench for Wales against England.

"He is definitely ready to start in Dublin. He played 80 minutes against Quins in the Anglo-Welsh (last week) and another full game for us today, so he's looking fit and in good form," Northampton assistant coach Alan Dickens said on Saturday.

"It's good to see that he wants to continuously get his hands on the ball."

Wales' main injury concern rests on Ross Moriarty, who is nursing a shoulder problem, but Warren Gatland will welcome Liam Williams and Leigh Halfpenny back to his squad ahead of naming his team tomorrow.

Taulupe Faletau is expected to remain out.

Meanwhile, Niall Scannell, Garry Ringrose and John Cooney could be called into Ireland's squad for the Wales game.

Scannell trained with the panel in Athlone last week having returned to full fitness last month, while Cooney could profit from Luke McGrath's misfortune - the Leinster scrum-half was forced off with a knee injury during his side's win over Scarlets at the RDS on Saturday.

Ringrose, meanwhile, is in contention for a return to action this week and is likely to see game-time with Leinster against Southern Kings on Friday night.

However, Joe Schmidt may wish to get him involved in the Six Nations build-up to re-integrate him to the set-up after he missed the whole of November with a shoulder injury and the opening two games of the Championship with an ankle issue.

Although his game-time has been severely limited this season, Ringrose could yet be an important player for Ireland after they lost Robbie Henshaw to a serious shoulder injury.

Chris Farrell is expected to wear the No 13 shirt this weekend, while the IRFU will issue a bulletin this morning on the fitness of Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson and James Ryan, who are all in a race to be fit for the all-important Wales clash. The squad assembled last night.

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