British & Irish Lions assistant coach Rob Howley admits George North is mature beyond his years ahead of his record-breaking appearance against France on Saturday.
North will become the youngest player in international rugby history to reach 50 Test caps – 47 for his country and three for the Lions – when he steps out in Paris for Wales.
Wales coach Warren Gatland – who led the Lions to victory against Australia in 2013 – chose to rest the 22-year-old for their win against Scotland after suffering a head injury the week before.
But he returns for the game at the Stade de France and Howley says there are few better in world rugby.
"He's an exceptional talent," said Howley. "It's a phenomenal record.
"If you think we gave George his first cap back in 2010 against South Africa when he was just 18, and you look back at that performance at such a young age, he showed a maturity on the wing and the number of touches he had, scoring two tries."
North scored a try on his last visit to Paris, in 2013, and Howley hopes the winger will repeat the feat this weekend.
"That's the question we want to keep asking of George," said the former Wales scrum-half.
"Over the last six months, he has been playing particularly well for Northampton but has not hit the straps he, and we, would have liked on the international stage. That is the challenge for every player wearing the national jersey."
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