George North has opened up on the abuse he’s received online and Wales’ wing wonder says the Twitter trolls have no idea the damage they cause to players.
North has 40 tries for his country in 95 games but that still hasn’t stopped him copping flak on social media and even in the supermarket.
“Social media is a nightmare, to be honest,” North (27) said.
“It’s a great platform to be so accessible to fans, but the flipside is hard. It’s something I have to deal with on a daily basis.
“You never go out to play badly, but sometimes through your own fault or the team’s, you don’t get that, but people think it’s OK to say whatever they want.
“You go through stages where you’ve got to just let it go and you move on and go about your business.
To have criticism on you constantly is hard. It’s not just on the players — we know when we have had a bad game — but it’s the impact it has on your family as well.
“It’s mad what it does and people think it’s fine. I don’t think they’d ever say it to your face.
“It is hard and it just seems like people think it is OK to do it. It does have a bearing.
“Sometimes I do think ‘B***** it I will just can it and become a nomad.
“I have logged out a few times for a week or two weeks and I have actually really enjoyed it."
It has been quite nice not to know what is going on and not be told you are c***.
North’s performance in Ireland saw him hammered by Wales fans while the head injury he suffered against France was another stick supporters used to beat the try machine with. That knock was North’s six head blow as a professional.
“It is easy enough to say what you want on a keyboard,” North said.
“The whole concussion thing is brilliant. I get told I should retire walking around Tesco!
“If these people were to come into our environment and see the lengths we go to I would hope they would think differently about what they say and do.
“When it is your name the whole time it is difficult not to read it. Your family read it and it gets through eventually. When you put yourself in the shop window, you expect to have some criticism, but when it’s unjust or without any real knowledge or information it does drain hard.
I do it block people when all they say is complete c***. They say ‘You should never play for Wales’ or ‘Here is your P45 I’ll sort it out' but the trolls haven’t got a Scooby Doo about what we do.
"As we go forward it is about understanding the effect abuse can have on individuals especially when it is all the time"
North is one of rugby’s biggest names and he admits social media does have its positive side.
The Ospreys back — who is expecting a baby with his wife and former Olympic cyclist Becky James — says he is happiest when on the field. And he insists there is no need for fans to worry about his long-term wellbeing despite his history of head injuries.
“My last concussion was in 2016. I was annoyed I didn’t get back on the field against France and I was like a raging bull, but for my own safety it was the best decision,” North said.
“I thank the doctors for looking after me. I find it funny people assume I don’t go and look for my own advice on my own head stuff. I know when I go and see my guy and if the day comes when he says ‘I wouldn’t do it’ then that is the day I won’t.”