IT was an agonising end to George North's 121-cap Wales career as the Monmouthshire-based star hobbled off injured on crutches at the end of Saturday’s 24-21 defeat to Italy.

The 31-year-old back, who lives in Goytre in Monmouthshire with Olympic cyclist wife Becky James and their young family, announced his retirement last week ahead of moving to play club rugby in France.

“It’s not been an easy decision, although it feels like the right time and it’s the best thing for me and my family,” admitted the Osprey beforehand.

“I’ve been very fortunate to live a dream... I wished this day would never come. It was a real head and heart conversation that bounced back and forward.”

North burst onto the international stage as a teenager when he scored two tries on his debut playing against Bryan Habana and the world champion Springboks.

He went on to win two Grand Slams (2012, 2019), two more Six Nations titles (2013, 2021), and reached two World Cup semi-finals (2011, 2019).

“I’ve loved every second and cherished every second – the highs and the lows...

“The people I’ve met, the friendships I’ve made, the coaches and team-mates. I couldn’t have written it better myself.

“I hope people will think of me as a Test animal, someone who would never give in, would give everything,” he said.

Wales coach Warren Gatland added: "George has contributed hugely to Welsh rugby, in an incredible career starting as an 18-year-old.

"The way that he burst onto the scene. I remember thinking we must cap this kid.

"He's been incredible as a rugby player, but I think the most important thing is how he's contributed as a person."