Like nature's way of placing dock leaves next to stinging nettles, so sport is careful to supply its antidote to the tawdry, the unseemly, the grotty, the plain off-putting; in short, the Carlos Tevez. And this weekend the remedy arrived in the startling sight of George North.
Sometimes they just come along for no other reason than the genetic lottery. The Welsh will no doubt claim the teenaged terror is the latest off the famous production line. But unless Max Boyce has shifted it to King's Lynn then North is a mould-breaker. Granted, as a Welsh speaker with a Welsh mum who grew up in Anglesey from the age of two, North is as Welsh as the hair on Tom Jones's chest. Yet that doesn't mean the Welsh have sole rights on his wonder.
North is for every rugby fan, every man, woman, boy or girl tottering on the edge of sofas waiting for the big man to get his hands on the ball. The purists will point out that Sam Warburton is more important to the Dragonhood, the marauding openside who at the age of 22 leads by exhaustive example. Sam is a modest lad, too, the perfect captain.
It is rather incredible that Warburton was in the same class at Whitchurch High School in Cardiff as Gareth Bale. The pair were friends and when asked in November when was the last time they saw each other, Warburton replied: "It was recently. I was with my mum, shopping in town and we ran into Gareth and his mum. We didn't say much to each other. We left the talking to the mums." Apparently, Internazionale and the Rugby World Cup could wait. There was the lumbago of Mrs Jones from No 53 to discuss.
So Welsh, so Warburton. Certainly there is plenty to talk about when it comes to the scavenging inspiration already being mentioned in the same breath as Richie McCaw. Indeed, he is every inch the talent of North. The trouble is, Warburton is two inches shorter.
North promises to be something more than simply a great rugby player. Dare we evoke the name Jonah Lomu in comparison? Well, everybody else has. And perhaps that is apt as the legendary wing lies in that Auckland hospital undergoing daily dialysis.
There are similarities, as anyone who watched yesterday's destructive performance against Fiji will confirm. Like Lomu, North is so much more than a big lump with a turn of foot. "What was sometimes overlooked with Jonah, in the awe of all that power and pace, was that he had great hands and feet, had really subtle skills in the contact area and so forth," so Shane Williams, North's Welsh team-mate, told The Independent last year. "George is the same. It's that mix of the physical attributes and the footballing skill. It's a potent formula."
Potent enough to leave the viewer slurring. If this were the Eighties or Nineties then those "knaves, the Rugby League scouts", as Boyce called them – "those Bradford Northern spies and plastic E-Type Englishmen with promise in their eyes" – would be canoeing over to Anglesey in huge fleets to woo his relatives. What a place to call home. Dawn French was born in Anglesey, as was Glenys Kinnock, while the presence of Prince William and his young wife at the RAF base has led to the opening of a Waitrose.
But the island's previous claim to sporting fame was that Matthew Maynard, the England cricketer, also grew up there. In terms of rugby, it didn't get any better than Sir Clive Woodward playing alongside Iain Duncan Smith in the centre as teenagers on the HMS Conway School Ship. And in Wales, believe me, it can't get much worse.
Now Anglesey's hero has emerged. Things happen when North puts hand to leather, things climaxing in white paint. "He's a special player, a one-off," says Lee Byrne, yet another admiring team-mate. "He is the fastest in the team sprints, the strongest in the team gym. He's that sort of player who comes along once in every 10 years," added Byrne.
Of course, these are mere words, just as the eulogy provided by none other than Bryan Habana was only words. "I have never seen a teenager as good as that," says the World Cup-winning wing. Yes, sometimes the words only reflect the action and in North that definitely seems the case. "What will he do next?" – it is the question that burns throughout any match he plays, as well as through his career as a whole.
The Welsh can be fairly confident he will not fall off the celebrity tightrope, once occupied so enthusiastically by the likes of Gavin Henson. The boy seems grounded and Anglesey will provide a bolthole from the hype already swirling through the valleys; although how long the Scarlets will be able to retain him will soon be the desperate caveat. "George is gonna get you," they sing with merciless glee. The point might come when they are "gonna come and get George".
That's the problem with "unique talents". Their uniqueness must be exploited. They will build him up and the opposing defences will knock him down. Make no mistake, they will eventually find a way to stop big George. But until they do, enjoy a remarkable young man living his and our dreams. Without a controversy in sight.Reuse content