What a difference four years makes. The northern hemisphere powers are back in World Cup final contention after a dismal performance from them in the 2015 tournament.
George North says Wales are optimistic ahead of the Rugby World Cup despite suffering their first loss in 15 matches against England.
George North says there is no panic in the Wales camp following their Rugby World Cup warm-up defeat by England.
Wales’ 33-19 reversal at Twickenham on Sunday meant a first loss for Warren Gatland’s men since February last year, ending a run of 14 wins.
It also dashed their hopes of replacing New Zealand at No.1 in the World Rugby rankings.
And there was a major setback for them on Monday, when flyhalf Gareth Anscombe, who went off just before halftime, was ruled out of World Cup contention due to a serious knee injury.
Despite the Six Nations champions matching England 3-3 on tries, with wing North among the scorers, George Ford’s goal-kicking proved a key difference.
Wales have an immediate opportunity to avenge that result when they host England on Saturday, and North knows it is all about a bigger picture.
“We were a bit rusty and I reckon we left four tries out there,” North said.
“But we are not panicking. It is what it is. We have to address that and we have a week to get it right for the next Test and we go again.
“You never like losing games, but it has put us in a good place to mentally focus and work out where we need to go.
“This is what these games are for.
“This is what the opportunity is to allow us to play these big games, turn that around and play the weekend after to simulate what is coming up.
“We are still fighting for positions in the squad and every second counts in these weeks and games.
“This is the pointed end of the stick now, when the games come thick and fast.”