CARDIFF: Wales’s George North is in no doubt of the challenge posed by New Zealand’s “exceptional” Julian Savea this weekend.
Both wings are set to be in action when the countries clash at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on Saturday.
But while North has established himself as a crowd favourite, it is the world champions’ Savea who boasts a stunning scoring-rate of 29 tries in a mere 32 Tests.
“He is exceptional. He is a brilliant example of how to impose yourself on a game,” North said on Monday.
“He pops up left, right and centre. You have to watch to work out what to do, but learn from him as well.”
North added: “The All Blacks have shown over the past few weeks that they can win Test matches when they are really feeling the heat.
“They are deservedly number one in the world and we have to step up our game massively for the weekend.”
Wales were once considered New Zealand’s greatest northern hemisphere rivals but they haven’t beaten the All Blacks since 1953 and, following last weekend’s shoddy win over Fiji, it would be a stunning result if they ended that long losing sequence on this occasion.
While Wales beat the Pacific Islanders 17-13, with North scoring one of their three tries, they somehow failed to register a point after half-time despite Fiji playing most of the second period a man down after prop Campese Ma’afu was sent off.
“You are aware of what’s coming and you work even harder,” North added. “There is no bigger challenge than the All Blacks.
“The All Blacks have a great game-plan. They’ve got players who can get over the gain-line and they’ve got boys who are very good in the air and have great skills. They won’t bring anything less than that on the weekend.
“The boys are really excited for the next two games (against New Zealand and South Africa).
“It wasn’t ideal to go into this game on the back of that performance against Fiji, but it is better to go in with a win rather than a loss.
“Everyone has held their hands up and we’ve said that we need to do better. We went out there believing in how we were set up and how we wanted to play, but we just didn’t get into our own rhythm.
“We had 23 turnovers from knock-ons and you can’t afford to do that at this level with New Zealand and South Africa coming up.”