Rugby: Wales set ambitious target

George North and Wales are targeting a minimum of three wins out of four as they prepare to get their autumn series under way against Argentina on Saturday.

Rugby News: George North, Wales

The Pumas assignment arrives ahead of engagements against Samoa, world champions New Zealand and Australia for the RBS 6 Nations champions, who are still smarting from their 3-0 Test series defeat to the Wallabies in the summer.

The whitewash Down Under, albeit by a total margin of just 11 points, made it 14 consecutive defeats against the world's top three of New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.

Six of those losses have been by a margin of four points or less, but Wales know it is high time they claim a major scalp, having last done so against Australia in November 2008.

And if winger North and Wales are to hit their target, they will have to beat at least one of the All Blacks or Wallabies to continue the rapid recent progression that began in such startling fashion at last year's World Cup.

The Scarlets flyer said: "We want to win, that's what we are here for. We want to compete at this level.

"We have two tough games to start against Argentina and Samoa leading into a tough ending against the All Blacks and Australia.

"We are looking for at least three out of four wins, it is something we have challenged ourselves to do and I think it is something we can achieve.

"It will be interesting to see how we come off but I am quite excited about it."

North, 20, terrorised defences at the World Cup, becoming a global star in the process, and started the Six Nations strongly only for his form to fade towards the end of the season as he was hindered by a groin problem.

But he has started the new campaign in superb form for his region, helping himself to seven tries in just eight appearances.

And, after being part of Wales' training camp in Poland, he is feeling fresh and keen to add to his international tally of 11 tries from 24 appearances.

"It was good to go to Poland and to freshen up if you like. We got a lot of work done in a short period of time," he said. "It is not a nice place to go but I feel better now than I did before going there.

"It is always good when things are going well and it has been going well for the region and for me personally.

"I am happier now than before Poland. This environment is always great to work in and my confidence is high and it is good to have that confidence coming into four very tough games."

North's mix of pace, power and excellent footwork have made him a marked man, but he has warned Argentina if they focus too much on him they will leave room for the likes of Alex Cuthbert, Leigh Halfpenny and Scott Williams to exploit.

"I found last season, and at the start of this, it is harder to get the ball in space," he said.

"It is tough, but with the quality we have got if you start marking one you leave gaps elsewhere, so hopefully they won't mark me too closely and I'll get a bit of space."

The clash with the Pumas represents a major opportunity for North's regional colleagues Josh Turnbull and Tavis Knoyle.

Flanker Turnbull will make his second start for his country in the number six jersey with Dan Lydiate and Ryan Jones out injured, while scrum-half Knoyle has been preferred to Lions' Test half-back Mike Phillips.

North said: "Obviously Josh has had a long wait for his chance but he has been in very good form this year and it is a very big chance for him.

"Tavis has had a tough year with injuries and not getting as much game time as he would like, and starting against Argentina is his big opportunity and hopefully it will go well for him."



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