At the end of last season George North was playing for his school side and dreaming of representing the Scarlets.
Fast forward seven months and he was scoring two tries on his full Wales debut as he became the third youngest player to represent his country and the second youngest, after former Wales Under 18 team-mate Tom Prydie, to score a Test try for Wales.
A handful of games for the Scarlets in the Magners League this season put the English born, but North Wales bred, teenager on the path to stardom and he took just five minutes to mark his mark on the international stage with his first try.
North took a short ball from fellow Scarlet Stephen Jones before coasting between Springbok centres Jean de Villiers and Frans Steyn for a sensational start to his Test career.
“It was a great debut and fantastic to score two tries. I was really happy about that,” said the Rhyl Youth and Llandovery College product, who has been one of the most-talked about players in Magners League rugby so far this term.
“It’s hard coming from playing schoolboy rugby six months ago to facing the world champions. It is an amazing change.
“There were just a few people on the touchlines shouting for me last season and on Saturday there were 54,000 fans raising the roof at the Millennium Stadium. It felt as though the whole of the country was behind me and the team – at times I could hardly hear myself think.
“The sense of excitement on the morning of the match was brilliant and then it really hit me that I was playing. It was everything I expected it to be as an experience and I’m looking forward to more of it.
“I’m not just an 18-year-old – I hope I’m someone that people can now look at as a player to be relied on at this level. Now I’m just looking forward to playing more games at this level and to a re-match with the Springboks and getting one back on them.”
North admitted he was surprised to hear Scarlet team mate Stephen Jones make the call for him to come into the back line in the move that ended in his fifth minute try that gave Wales an early lead.
Every player loves to get involved in the game early on but North hadn’t been expecting to be given such an attacking chance with just his second touch in Test-match rugby.
“When I heard Stephen make the call I thought ‘are you serious?’ added North.
“Then I just did my job, coming around the corner. It all opened up for me and I thought ‘I’m in here’.
“I was trying to work my way into the game, get some carries and make a contribution. But you can never rest against the world champions.”
George North scored twice for Wales against South Africa
Not content with just a single debut score, North gave Wales hope of a late comeback when he crossed for a second just moments after the Boks had claimed two tries of their own inside four second-half minutes.
Again Jones was the creator, with a well-weighted cross kick falling perfectly for the youngster, who simply picked up and dived over in the right-hand corner.
“In hindsight, thinking about the second try, it was a bit silly to let the ball bounce – I should never have done that. This time I gave Stephen the call and it was a great kick.
“I could see their two defenders and, thankfully, the ball bounced kindly for me, I caught it and I was over.
“I’m over the moon with the debut, but very disappointed with the defeat. The whole experience was much more than I had expected. The atmosphere was fantastic and I loved every minute.
“I’m just delighted that the Scarlets gave me the opportunity to show what I can do. Hopefully I can get some more games under my belt after this.”
George North’s Magners League record
North only made his Magners League debut in the first game of this season.
He scored two tries in that match, despite defeat to Magners League newcomers Benetton Treviso.
He has since scored tries against Aironi and the Dragons, giving him an impressive record of four tries in five games.
North played the full 80 minutes in his first four matches, before featuring for just over half an hour against the Ospreys on October 2.
That loss to the reigning Magners League Champions was North’s most recent Mganers League appearance after he picked up a minor stress fracture in his lower leg.