Australia v Lions: Winger’s fitness sees tourists’ hopes go north

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There was a collective groan across all of Australia when British & Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland announced that George North was fit for the first Test.

The Wales winger has been the subject of much discussion Down Under ever since his scintillating 72-metre run eventually set up a try for Ben Youngs in the 22-12 win over the Queensland Reds in the third Tour match, with the Aussie focus now switching to just how they’ll stop the new Northampton signing.

North’s hamstring injury has cleared up ahead of the first Test at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday, with his fitness contributing to the Lions’ 4/6 favouritism.

Having scored one try in his five meetings with Australia in a Wales shirt, North is available at a joint-favourite 10/1 with his fellow Welsh winger Alex Cuthbert to cross the line first in Brisbane.

With two tries on tour so far, Australia are sure to be targeting the 6ft 4ins powerhouse for special attention.

In turn though, North will be looking to expose the potential defensive weakness of opposite number Israel Folau – a former rugby league international who makes his Wallabies Test debut on the wing having played mostly at full-back.

At 2/1 to cross the try line at any time, North is sure to be a key man should the Lions expose any weaknesses in the 11/8 hosts, particularly those of Folau.

Those confident in the prospects of the Lions might be inclined to back them to win at Evens with a -3.0 handicap, whilst they are 5/4 to win despite a -6.0 headstart.

Stopping North will be one of the main ingredients to any Australia victory, and they are available at 7/4 to win with a handicap of -3.0, and 5/2 to overcome a six point deficit to win.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publication

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