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6th April 2020

Environment ‘You expect some abuse, but it drains you’ – North on social media trolls

Environment ‘You expect some abuse, but it drains you’ – North on social media trolls

Environment

environment George North played three Tests for the British and Irish Lions in 2013 against Australia

George North played three Tests for the British and Irish Lions in 2013 against Australia

George North has revealed the level of social media abuse Wales players receive after representing their country.

North, who made his debut in 2010 and has won 95 caps for Wales, is the joint second top try scorer with 40 tries alongside Gareth Thomas and behind Shane Williams.

But the 27-year-old is still targeted by the trolls.

“It is something I deal with on a daily basis,” said North.

“It is easy enough when you’re on a keyboard to say what you want and people think it’s okay.

“There was what happened to poor Caroline Flack and hopefully no-one else has to go through that again.

“As we go forward it is understanding what the effect can be on individuals, especially when it’s all the time.

“It’s hard. Not just on the players but the effect it has on your family. It’s mad what it does and people think it’s fine, but it has a bearing.”

Unacceptable abuse

North accepts Wales players will have greater scrutiny but do not deserve the abuse they receive.

“In this job we are always in the shop window so there is not much we can do about it,” said North.

“You never go out to play badly, you go out with the best of intentions to be man of the match but sometimes you don’t get that.

“The greatest honour is to play for your country so to not perform is the biggest upset as we give so much to get here.

“Sometimes when it is your name the whole time being put through it, it is difficult not to read because it filters through and your family see it.

“You expect to have some (abuse) of it, but when it’s unjust or without knowledge or information behind it, it drains hard.

“They tell you “you should never play for Wales” or “here’s your P45 I’ll sort it out”. They (trolls) haven’t got a Scooby Doo about what we do Monday to Friday.

“If they were to come into the environment, see the prep we are doing, the lengths we go to physically and mentally, I hope they would think differently about what they say and do.

“They only see that game on a Saturday where they think they could have done better if they hadn’t blown their knee out when they were 12, they would have obviously played for Wales.”

North accepts he does not have to read the abuse but also acknowledges he uses the positives of social media.

“I think about deleting it,” said North.

“I have logged out a few times and have enjoyed it. It has been nice not to know what is going on and not be told you are rubbish.

“The career is such a short time and you have to make as much of it as you can when you can. I know it is such a powerful tool not just for the fan base but for you as an individual as well.

“The majority of people are good on there and that doesn’t get enough praise as well. It’s a great platform but makes you accessible.”

George North and Alun Wyn Jones celebrate a try against England

Alun Wyn under attack

North says Alun Wyn Jones has been subjected to abuse after his altercation with Joe Marler with the England prop suspended for 10 weeks for grabbing the Wales captain’s genitals.

“Nobody in their right mind would ever say it to his face, I don’t understand why he is getting the abuse he is,” said North.

“If you look at the situation he was put in, he dealt with it extremely well. Al gives so much every day and people just send him something not true and nasty.

“It is constant and wears down on you. He’s got a young family and doesn’t need that when he goes home to be reminded about that.”

North is targeted because of his past concussion history with his latest problem having been forced off against France after failing a head injury assessment in the first-half and not returning to the field.

“Even walking round the supermarket I get told I should retire,” said North.

“People comment without ever seeing me, treating me, knowing my symptoms or my history.

“My last one was 2016, it wasn’t a really big issue then. 2015 was the real big one when I had those bad spates but that’s four or five years ago.

“I was annoyed I didn’t get back on the field against France. I was like a raging bull but understand the decision made and respect that for my own safety.

“It then got blown out of the water as usual.

“People pluck the past ones (concussions) like it was yesterday and the story goes round again.

“The general consensus with concussion is we are in a much better place, but put the social media fire in there and it goes through the roof.

“I take care of myself and keep an eye on what I am doing.

George North receiving treatment against France

“I find it funny people assume I don’t go and look for my own advice. I have been seeing a specialist for five years.

“If the day comes when he says ‘I wouldn’t do it’, that is the day I won’t. Until then I will take the best advice from the people I know.”

North admits he is happiest doing what he has done since he was a child.

“By kick-off on Saturday there is only one thing on my mind,” said North.

“All I need to do is rip into the game and nothing else matters. Weirdly the pitch is the happiest place and my favourite time of the week.

“There are no distractions, you are just doing your job, the purest form of rugby.

“Take everything around it and it is just that green thing in the middle, where you were playing when you were six or seven years old. Nothing beats that.”

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