Rugby

Warren Gatland hails ‘incredible’ George North ahead of international retirement

The Wales boss described North as ‘outstanding and a credit to himself’.

George North is to retire from international rugby after Wales’ match against Italy .
George North George North is to retire from international rugby after Wales’ match against Italy . (Ben Birchall/PA)

Wales head coach Warren Gatland led tributes to George North after his announcement that he will retire from Test rugby following Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations clash against Italy.

North has decided to call time on an international career that has yielded 120 caps, 47 tries for Wales, four Six Nations titles, including two Grand Slams, four World Cups and two British and Irish Lions tours, when he played in three Tests.

“George has contributed hugely to Welsh rugby in an incredible career, starting as an 18-year-old,” Gatland said.

“The way that he burst on to the scene. I can remember seeing him play and thinking, ‘We need to cap this kid’.

“He has been incredible as a rugby player, but I think the most important thing is how he has contributed to the squad as a person over the years.

“How positive and encouraging he has been within and around the group, things that people wouldn’t have seen in terms of what he has organised off the field.

“George has been outstanding and a credit to himself. He can definitely hold his head high. He and his family and friends can be very proud of everything he has achieved.

“I look forward to watching George play at the Principality Stadium one final time in a red jersey on Saturday and I hope everyone will join me in celebrating him. Diolch George.”

North’s former Wales and Lions team-mate Jamie Roberts described him on X as a “generational player”, while the Lions said that North had enjoyed “an incredible international career”.

And ex-Wales and Lions number eight Scott Quinnell said on X: “Congratulations on an amazing career. One of the very best. Enjoy every minute of Saturday.”

Ospreys centre North will continue playing rugby next season, having agreed a deal with ambitious French club Provence.