Rugby World Cup 2015: Howley says Wales are battle-hardened ahead of South Africa test

George North should revert to the wing against South Africa, according to Wales backs coach Rob Howley

By Sportsbeat

George North should revert to the wing this weekend, according to backs coach Rob Howley, as Wales prepare for the dual threat of Bryan Habana and JP Pietersen.

With injuries ravaging their squad so far at this World Cup, the Northampton Saints man was deployed at outside centre against Australia last weekend.

However, Howley is advocating a horses-for-courses method as Wales prepare for a massive quarter-final clash against South Africa and their in-form wingers.

Pietersen and Habana have nine tries between them so far at the tournament, with the latter becoming the all-time record World Cup try-scorer in the process.

“Both George and Alex (Cuthbert) will likely be on the wing,” revealed Howley.

“If you look at South African strengths and the way they have played the game, it’s an aerial battle and we have decided both George and Alex will be best on the wings to negate that threat.

“When you look at the experience in their backline in Habana and JP Pietersen, who is back from injury, I think it’s probably trying to match that experience and strength with that we have got as well.

“We have got the option of Tyler (Morgan) or James Hook into the centre – we’ll make that decision and you’ll know it first-hand on Thursday.”

Welsh injuries have been so severe that head coach Warren Gatland resorted to calling up Eli Walker this week, even though the winger will not be fit for this weekend.

However, Howley believes their depleted crop have both the ability and the drive to match the in-form Springboks.

“It’s knockout football, it’s a quarter-final to look forward to,” he added. “If you had said to us six or eight weeks ago ‘would you take a quarter-final against South Africa?’ of course we would.

“We trust the players that are available to us – they are giving us 100 per cent. Of course there are going to be some mistakes along the way but you back your players and they will give 100 per cent, as they have done for the last four or five weeks of the tournament.

“Every time we have played South Africa it has been a very physical, attritional and uncompromising game and it’s going to be no different on Saturday.

“They are probably one of the most experienced sides in the Rugby World Cup. They have got a really solid, experienced front five and threats all over the park.”

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