George North has earned the right to get away with just a warning for his performance against Scotland, says Shaun Edwards, who admitted the Wales winger “was not at his best”.
North had a good start to the Six Nations with a stunning 70-metre try with a dead leg – an injury which kept him out of the following game against England at the Principality Stadium.
The 24-year-old returned for the defeat to Scotland, where he came under criticism for his defensive performance as the Welsh conceded 20 unanswered points at Murrayfield to end any hopes of winning the championship this year.
While North is expected to start underneath the lights in Cardiff on Friday night, defence coach Edwards warned that there cannot be a repeat of the errors in Scotland.
"I think that George North had a very good game against Italy in very, very difficult circumstances," Edwards said. "He got a really bad bang on his leg and toughed it out well.
"Yes, he wasn't at his best against Scotland, but I think great players, who have done great things for you in the past, sometimes deserve a warning.
"If he is selected, I expect George to be certainly on his mettle."
Asked if the general defensive mistakes against Scotland were team or individual issues, Edwards added: "They were individual mistakes because they (players) didn't do what they practised in the build-up to the game.
"They decided to do what they wanted and not what the rest of their team-mates expected them to do.
"When it comes to conceding tries, we've conceded tries on our edge, usually our right edge, and one on the left side (against Scotland)."
Friday’s opponents Ireland are still in the hunt for the title, having only lost to Scotland so far, and Edwards knows that any errors will be punished with half-back pairing Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton in the form they are in.
"I have a lot of time for Johnny Sexton," Edwards said. "He has been one of the greatest fly-halves of the last 10 years, there is no doubt about it, and he still is.
"I've got huge respect for him and Conor Murray, two world-class players who are used to playing together, which is very important. We are fully aware of the threat Johnny brings.
"Conor is very astute, particularly near the try-line. He throws a lot of dummies, tries to go himself and scores a lot of tries, and Johnny orchestrates things for the backs.
"They are two outstanding players who we have to be really on our guard against.
"You are never going to make a great player have a poor game, you just don't want them to have an outstanding game."
Wales head coach Rob Howley names his side to face the Irish on Wednesday with the only two changes likely to be Luke Charteris and Taulupe Faletau replacing Jake Ball and Ross Moriarty respectfully.
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