/ Six Nations 2016

North will not be distracted by Grand Slam talk

Updated: Sunday, 11 Mar 2012 13:44

George North - 'We are quite good at blanking things out.'
George North - 'We are quite good at blanking things out.'

George North is confident that Wales' Grand Slam-chasing squad can sidestep the external hype and hysteria that will surround their every move this week.

Victory over Millennium Stadium visitors France next Saturday would give Wales a third Six Nations title and Grand Slam in eight seasons.

As when they last achieved it four years ago, France again stand in Wales' way, although on that occasion Les Bleus were sent packing 29-12.

North was still in school as Wales marked coach Warren Gatland's first season at the helm by being crowned European champions, but 20 caps into his Test career, the 19-year-old is relishing a chance to write another major chapter in Welsh rugby history.

"We can't really deny the fact we have a Grand Slam game coming up," Scarlets wing North said.

"It is something we can think about now, but it is just another Test match, really. I think it will be a good game - a great spectacle.

"There is going to be a lot of hype this week - I am sure it will be built up nicely for us.

"But we are quite good at blanking things out. We will just dig in and do our job, and whatever people want to say, they can say. We will just come in on Monday morning and train hard.

"I am sure there are plenty of people who will hype up the game left, right and centre, but we want to let our rugby do the talking."

North was part of the Wales team beaten 9-8 by France in a contentious World Cup semi-final last October.

Wales had skipper Sam Warburton sent off for a dangerous tackle midway through the first half, yet an astounding 14-man performance almost saw France toppled against all odds.

"There will be a lot of hype about revenge and redemption after the World Cup, but I think both teams have moved on since then," North added.

"They are playing well, we are playing good rugby as well, so I can't really see who is the favourite.

"It is a case of us tightening up and being clinical when the chances come.

"We need to be a bit more efficient around the park. Little mistakes didn't really help us against Italy. They disrupted us really well, and we couldn't get into our zone.

"I think we learnt loads from the World Cup. If you look at the way we are playing, there is more confidence in our game, we are throwing the ball around."

The Wales squad will reassemble at their rural training base tomorrow, with Warburton's fitness set to top the early-week agenda.

Warburton has played just one-and-a-half games in this season's Six Nations so far, suffering a thigh injury against opening opponents Ireland that forced him off at half-time, and then missing yesterday's victory over Italy due to a knee problem.

The Wales camp say current medical opinion is that Warburton will be able to face France, which would mean him replacing an in-form Justin Tipuric as probably Gatland's only change.