George North knows from first-hand experience just how tough a proposition Australia could be for the British and Irish Lions next month.
The 21-year-old Wales wing has already achieved a prodigious amount in his rugby career, having been part of two RBS 6 Nations title-winning teams and reached a World Cup semi-final.
Australia, though, have refused to play ball, with North still to taste victory against the Wallabies.
Five times he has faced the men in gold, and five times Australia triumphed, with North’s pain exacerbated by their last four victories over Wales being by a combined total of just 13 points.
North is among 15 Welshmen on the Lions tour, and many of them can share his agony, but he does not believe there will be a psychological issue when they head Down Under.
“I think we have had our bad time now,” North said.
“It was unfortunate to lose those last four Tests by an average of something like three points. It was horrible, and I think we learnt our lesson.
“Australia are a physical team and they have a pretty star-studded back-line. What haven’t they got? They’ve got speed, hands and physicality. They have got everything there – strength in depth as well.
“You always do your best, and unfortunately, the results marginally didn’t go our way, but there is nothing to fear. We could have won four of those last five games.
“It has been frustrating, we have been so close on a number of occasions. Whatever Test side they (Australia) put out will be a difficult one to play against.”
North’s selection for the Lions came just 17 days after his 21st birthday, and he is rated a very short price to make the Test team, providing further evidence of how far he has progressed in such a short period of time.
When the Lions last toured four years ago, losing a titanic series 2-1 against South Africa, North watched on the common room television at Llandovery College with his fellow students.
“It (Lions squad selection) was a bit of a nervous time, but when I heard my name it was the best feeling in the world,” he added.
“When the selection was announced it was pretty awesome, surreal, but when we met up in London last week it really sunk in.
“It was the first time the boys had met and been all together. It was a funny sort of feeling.
“You kind of realise where you are when you’re trying on your suits and stuff and you are sat between Paul O’Connell and Conor Murray, and there is Sam Warburton and Manu Tuilagi as well.
“You realise it’s kind of a big deal after that. It has been a long season, but hopefully we will finish it with a sweet win.
“I remember in 2009 thinking it was going to be a long time if I ever got the chance to be there on a Lions tour, but for it to happen so soon … I’m pretty stoked to be here.
“The plan then was to play rugby. If that didn’t work, I don’t know what I would have done. There was no plan B.
“When you start playing rugby you want to play at the next highest level and work your way through the systems. I progressed to the Scarlets and Wales, then you move on to the next challenge, which is here now.
“It has been a lot of work to be here, but it has paid off, not just for me but the others in the squad.”
North, who made his Wales debut as an 18-year-old, will move on to the next chapter in his career post-Lions when he joins Aviva Premiership club Northampton for next season.
He has been keeping in touch with Saints’ progress to the Premiership final at Twickenham tomorrow week, with that game against Leicester taking place just 48 hours before the Lions fly to Hong Kong and their opening tour appointment with the Barbarians.
“I watched last week’s game (semi-final victory over Saracens). It was a great performance,” he said.
“I had better start looking forward, but obviously at the moment there is a big focus on cracking on here.”