Wales great George North’s stunning rugby league revelation

118-Test Wales veteran George North has revealed there was “an opportunity” for him to make a stunning code switch to rugby league after being approached to join the NRL.

North, now 31, was among the standouts during the British and Irish Lions’ 2-1 series win over the Wallabies in Australia 10 years ago. The iconic image of the wing carrying tackler Israel Folau over his shoulder while trying to run an extra few metres will live on in Lions folklore forever.

The now-three-time British and Irish Lion clearly turned some heads during that tour, too, with the Welshman recently revealing there was an option to pursue a career change.

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Before becoming the Welsh rugby great that North now is, the utility back was approached about a potential move to Australia’s National Rugby League competition.

“Not many people know there was an opportunity for me,” North told The Guardian. “I was asked would I look at league in Australia?”

“I had a couple of conversations but drew a line under it pretty quickly. My biggest goal was to play for my country and not many people from north Wales get that opportunity.

“When I was sipping a gin and tonic in the Sydney sunshine it did cross my mind.

“But that was off the high of a series win. For me, it’s always been about rugby and Wales. It’s always been about the Three Feathers.”

North’s revelation comes in the wake of 22-year-old Louis Rees-Zammit’s stunning decision to leave rugby union behind to pursue an opportunity with the NFL International Player Pathway program.

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Rees-Zammit, who has played for both Wales and the British and Irish Lions, was immediately released from his rugby contract last month.

The Welshman has since been pictured honing his new craft during the early stages of a 10-week intensive training camp in Florida.

“I’d heard little bits but fair play to him,” North said.

“I’m sure there are rugby fans going, ‘What is he doing?’ But my theory, as a wise old man, is that your career is so short.

“He’s young enough to give it a couple of years. I hope it goes well for him. If it doesn’t, he can always come back.

“I messaged him saying, ‘Good luck, give it hell.’ What an awesome opportunity.”


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