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Page last updated at 16:15 GMT, Monday, 15 November 2010
Anglesey celebrates George North's great Wales debut

George North scores Wales's first try against S Africa
George North becomes Wales' second youngest try scorer

Anglesey's George North has become the youngest international rugby player to score a try in a debut game since 1924.

He provided 10 points in the closely-fought 25-29 defeat to World Champions South Africa, whose legendary winger, Bryan Habana said Wales had found a 'real gem'.

"George looks good enough and mature enough to become one of the greats," said Habana, who swapped shirts with the winger from Rhoscolyn after the match.

"You don't say that lightly, but he's laid a great foundation and played a lot better than any 18-year-old I've seen."

North enjoys 'awesome' debut

At 18 years and 214 days, North was the third youngest player in Wales history, even though he only began playing for the Scarlets' first team this season after picking up his A-Level results in August.

One man who was very proud to see him score his first points for Wales was Keith Withers, who taught George PE at Ysgol Bodedern.

"It was unbelievable at first," said Keith of the former school team captain.

"I felt quite emotional. As a teacher, you put a lot of energy into developing pupils like that. It was as though one of my own children was scoring."

But it wasn't a shock to Keith that the son of a local blacksmith had done so well.

"As someone who's played and coached rugby for years, you can tell when someone special comes along.

"When he was 11 he was a strong runner, but also had the ability to lead others. He was always mature and good at speaking to the other players, to bring people together and get the best out of them."

"He was always confident in his own way, but also modest. I'm not surprised he's gone on to succeed and I think he'll get a lot more caps for Wales."

He's really a very level-headed, nice young man. He always spent time at school with the kids who looked up to him
Iestyn Thomas, Llandovery College

George was born in England and his father is from Yorkshire, but the family moved back to his mother's roots on Anglesey when George was two.

A fluent Welsh speaker, he played for Llangefni RFC's youth team as a child and club members were out in force to support him on Saturday.

"We all hoped he'd do well of course, because he comes from Anglesey," said club secretary, Arthur Millburn.

"But the way he played was so intelligent. Always in the right place at the right time.

"From talking to the guys at the bar after the game, the word I got most was 'awesome'."

Role model

George left Llangefni RFC and Ysgol Bodedern at 16 when he gained a rugby scholarship to Llandovery College, Carmarthenshire, like Wales team mates, Alun Wyn Jones and Andy Powell.

"His attitude at Llandovery College was superb in terms of training and trying to get his academic studies done," said Iestyn Thomas, director of rugby at the college.

"He's really a very level-headed, nice young man. He always spent time at school with the kids who looked up to him and was a great role model."

Llandovery's team were delighted to get a good luck text off George for their game on Saturday, even though he was only hours away from his Wales debut.

So how will he cope with the pressure of being a household name?

"I don't think George will change," said Keith Withers, who's still in touch with the family.

"The problem will be other people's expectations of him. But I think those around him will help keep his feet on the ground."




SEE ALSO
North can be new Bevan - Davies
15 Nov 10 |  Welsh
Early cap for Anglesey's North
12 Nov 10 |  People & Places


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