Since then he has gone on to win 40 Test caps for Wales and shone in last summer's Lions tour to Australia, crossing over twice against the Wallabies.
Howley, who took charge of Wales while Warren Gatland led the Lions Down Under, is hoping for a repeat performance from North but conceded a lack of match practice may limit his game time.
"South Africa will remember his debut against them in 2010 when he scored two tries," said Howley.
"He is a world-class player, and you need your world-class players against a side of the calibre of the Springboks.
"We will take the decision from the player and I am sure George will communicate with us in terms of how he is feeling after 50 to 60 minutes.
"The one thing in international rugby is you have to be flat out, that is part of the intensity and the pressure and it will be even greater today."