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George North: Wales can still retain Six Nations title

Updated: Sunday, 16 Feb 2014 09:41 | Comments

George North: 'It is important to remember that we proved last year that defeat doesn't mean it's all lost'
George North: 'It is important to remember that we proved last year that defeat doesn't mean it's all lost'

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George North has called for a reaction from Wales as they prepare to resume business in the RBS 6 Nations Championship.

Wales' hopes of achieving an unprecedented Six Nations title hat-trick suffered a major setback when they were beaten 26-3 by Ireland last weekend.

It was their heaviest defeat in 32 Six Nations Tests under head coach Warren Gatland and means they now have a mountain to climb if they want to retain silverware.

Not only can North and company afford no further slip-ups in remaining games against France, England and Scotland, they also need to considerably boost a points difference that will be a decisive factor if teams end the tournament tied in the table.

Unbeaten France arrive at the Millennium Stadium on Friday night - Les Bleus have won five of the previous seven Six Nations meetings with Wales in Cardiff - and Gatland's men must start redressing the balance or face a mid-table finish.

"I am a big believer in sides being judged on how they react to a setback, and the game against France is a chance to show how we can bounce back," wing North said.

"It's a sign of a good side to turn things around and bounce back, and that is what we need to do. We need to react next week - the defeat was a massive disappointment.

"In Wales, we have massive pride in rugby, and as players we are all really disappointed.

"We met back up at the start of this week and the defeat was still ripe in the boys' memory, but we reflected and had a few meetings to review the performance (in Dublin).

"When you lose, you look at your performance with a fine toothcomb and target the areas you need to work on. As a squad that is what we have done, we have reviewed it and put things in place and begun our preparation for France."

Wales lost their opening fixture to Ireland last season, but then launched a run of four successive victories - starting by defeating France in Paris - that took them to title glory.

"It is important to remember that we proved last year that defeat doesn't mean it's all lost," North added.

"We have a lot to play for. We have made it more difficult for ourselves, but we have to knuckle down, keep working as hard as ever and focus on what we can do.

"In Wales, we have massive pride in rugby, and as players we are all really disappointed."

"We have lost just two of our last 12 games in the competition, so our form has been good overall. We were outplayed last week, but we know how to come back and know what needs to be done."

North scored the decisive try when Wales toppled France 16-6 a year ago, yet Les Bleus have showed clear signs of recovery from last season's miserable Six Nations campaign by winning their opening two games this time around.

"France will be a huge challenge," North said. "They have started really well with two wins from two and are looking good.

"They have got a big pack and a big scrum which showed up well against Italy last week, and their back-line is firing as well.

"(Centres) Mathieu Bastareaud and Wesley Fofana are both on form at the moment and the back-three are looking sharp and running in tries as well.

"There is nothing like the Six Nations to bring out big performances, and that is what we need on Friday.

"It's going to be a great atmosphere in Cardiff - there is nowhere better to play - and an evening kick-off will just add to the atmosphere.

"Obviously, the fans will be as disappointed as we are with last week, but when they get behind us on Friday it will be a huge lift to the team and will help us kick on in this Six nations.

"It's all about pushing on from here, and that starts against France."

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