Northampton Saints winger George North believes that last year’s Aviva Premiership grand final victory provided an added incentive to achieve glory once again this season.
The Franklin’s Gardens outfit beat Saracens 24-20 in extra time in the 2014 Twickenham end-of-season showpiece to claim their first Premiership crown.
“The club have to been to a few semis before, but not actually gone the whole distance,” the Welsh star told GiveMeSport.
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“It has been a good season for us, obviously it has helped us to push on again and play some more good rugby.”
The defending champions secured top spot with a 43-0 victory over London Welsh on Saturday, ensuring they will get a home semi-final against the fourth-placed side.
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“As it stands, we don’t really know what the semis will look like, because it is getting quite tight at the top now,” said 23-year-old North.
“We have got Leicester coming up and then we’ll just focus on the home semi, which will be brilliant for us.”
Last year’s runners-up, Saracens, are currently languishing in fifth place, following a 24-20 defeat at the hands of Exeter Chiefs, and must now beat London Welsh to give themselves a chance of making the play-offs.
10-time winners Leicester Tigers could still drop out of the top four, with just a point more than the Sarries, but second-placed Bath have secured their position in the semi-finals with the Saints.
Yet, it is unclear whether North will be able to feature in the play-offs, having not played since the victory over London Wasps on March 27.
Hopeful concussions won’t ruin career
The English-born Wales international received his third concussion in four months in that game, but is unsure on when he will return or whether he will have long-lasting damage.
“If I’m honest, you never know," said the winger.
"Obviously, I’ve seen a specialist and I’ve had a scan, so it’s just a case of making sure they get it right now and it’s not an issue going on."
Concussions continue to be an important issue in rugby, with several players like former England international Shontayne Hape and ex-Cardiff Blues flanker Rory Watts-Jones having their careers cut short and due to concussion-related injuries.
Excited for World Cup
With the World Cup coming up in September, North will be hoping he will be fit in time to play in the competition, which will be hosted in the country of his birth.
“It’s a home World Cup, so it’s going to be more exciting, it’s not too far to travel, so if we have the same mentality of ‘let’s work hard’, we’ll take every game as it comes and just focus on that,” said the Welshman.
North is one of Wales’ best players, and despite his age, has already won 49 caps, but will be looking to head into rugby union’s toughest tournament with another Premiership medal in his pocket.
BT Sport is the exclusive home of Aviva Premiership rugby. Watch Northampton Saints versus Leicester Tigers exclusively live on BT Sport 1 at 3pm on Saturday 16th May.