British and Irish Lions 2013: George North passes fitness test to provide huge boost ahead of first clash against Australia

The news a welcome boost following this week's defeat

The Lions have received a massive confidence boost following yesterday's loss to the Brumbies with the news that George North will be fit for the opening Test against Australia on Saturday.

North passed a fitness test on his hamstring injury today with everyone in the Lions party lifted by the news.

After suffering a 14-12 loss to the Brumbies in Canberra, just hours after that first defeat of the tour, North was taking his fitness test and convincing the medical team he was ready to spearhead the bid for a first series triumph since 1997.

While North will be named in tomorrow's starting line up for the Test in Brisbane, centre Jamie Roberts will not have recovered from his hamstring injury, opening the way for Jonathan Davies to partner Brian O'Driscoll at centre.

Rob Howley, the Lions backs coach, paid tribute to the endless hours of rehabilitation work undertaken by North to get the powerhouse Welsh wing fit to take on the Wallabies.

Howley said;""George was up bright and early this morning for a 7am fitness test and I have never seen him in better shape and he is available for selection which is a huge boost for us. We have looked after him well and it is a huge morale boost to have someone like George fit for the first test.

"George has been icing his hamstring continually doing the day and then doing his rehab running with the medical staff and his whole focus has been to get himself right. That is completely different to other tours I have been on and the professionalism of these young talent players is outstanding. They are preparing for the biggest game of the rugby year and their diligence and professionalism can only be admired.

"It shows how much they want to wear that red jersey with the badge on and we spoke about the badge getting bigger and while it was dented a little bit last night,  I am sure we will see a reaction on  Saturday.

"He was involved against Australia here on tour with Wales a year ago and I haven't seen him looking better and that is why we took the decision to get him 100 per cent right and he is looking forward to playing Australia. Jamie Roberts is unlikely to be fit for the weekend along with Tommy Bowe whose hand is progressing and we believe he is going to be available for the second test.  It's about making sure the surgery he has had is ready for rugby.

"Manu is improving every day after damaging a nerve in his shoulder and is getting stronger all the time but he is touch and go for the first test.  If you have players who could be ready by the second test then it is important to work with them because this is a three test series and we are in a good place."


Howely is confident the Brumbies defeat has not affected confidence and maintained on arrival in Brisbane today that the Lions remain capable of ending a 16 year wait for a test series triumph.  He also refused to accept that a leaked Wallaby team would be the one turning up on Saturday."I have seen the Wallaby team that is out there on twitter and all you think is that is hearsay and we will wait until the official announcement tomorrow;"said Howley.

"Can the Brumbies defeat make us stronger? Absolutely and as Warren(Gatland) said last night, it is a reality check, particularly at the break down and a lot of our discussions have been about correcting that area of our play."

Wallabies (unconfirmed): Berrick Barnes; Israel Folau, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Christian Lealiifano, Digby Ioane; James O'Connor, Will Genia, Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore, Benn Robinson, Kane Douglas, James Horwill (captain);, Michael Hooper, Ben Mowen; Wycliff Palu

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
Life and Style
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments