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Northampton Saints and George North release statement on winger's shock exit

By RugbyPass
George North during training on the eve of Wales’ match with England

Both Northampton Saints and George North have released statements following today’s announcement by the WRU that winger was returning to Wales.

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The statement reads “Following recent conversations with the Club and WRU representatives, the 25 year-old Wales International and British & Irish Lion feels it is the right time for him to return to Wales.”

“While we are disappointed to lose a player of George’s quality we respect and understand his decision to move back to Wales to be closer to home,” said Director of Rugby Jim Mallinder. “He will leave with our full support and best wishes for the future.

“I know how difficult a decision this has been for George, but in the end the emotional pull of settling back in Wales outweighed his desire to remain in Northampton and we respect that.

“I remember him joining the club almost five years ago as someone with an enormous talent and potential to be a really top class international. Since then he has developed into a world-class player and a very popular member of the club. He’ll be greatly missed both on and off the field.

“I have no doubt that for the rest of the season George will put all his energy into firstly rehabilitating from his current knee injury as quickly as possible and then ensuring Saints have a strong second half of the season.”

The wing made six appearances for the club this season before suffering an injury to his posterior cruciate ligament requiring six to eight weeks rehabilitation. North has targeted the Club’s Aviva Premiership clash with Exeter Chiefs on Saturday 23 December for his return.

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“The Club remains focussed on recruiting and retaining top quality talent and we made an appropriate offer for George to stay,” said Saints Chief Executive Mark Darbon.

“We have Dan Biggar joining us next season, and have plans to further strengthen our backline, and the squad more broadly, over the coming months.”

Joining from Scarlets in 2013 North has made a total of 80 Club appearances scoring 35 tries. In his first season the wing collected Premiership and European Champions Cup winners medals. North was also toured Australia with the British & Irish Lions in 2013 – an achievement he would repeat in New Zealand in 2017.

“This has been an incredibly hard decision,” said North who since joining Saints has earned 38 of his 69 caps for Wales.

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“Saints have developed me as a player and stuck by me through thick and thin, so it is with a heavy heart that I have decided to move on. I love playing for Northampton Saints and am excited by the potential of the squad that is being assembled but, as a proud Welshman, I felt that now is the right time to move back home despite the compelling offer Saints made me.

“I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to be part of this great club for the last four years. I have loved every minute of my time here and I am excited to see what we can achieve this season. I will be putting everything I have into helping the squad fulfil our potential this year in the highly competitive Aviva Premiership, and I will sorely miss Franklin’s Gardens in the future.”

“I would like to thank the squad, coaches, medical team, support staff and especially all of the supporters who have made my time at Northampton Saints so memorable.”

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William 1 hours ago
All Blacks vs England takeaways: Richie Who? Time for Cortez

Correct analysis of Perofeta’s bungling of the try opportunity Ben. Never ‘fixed’ Steward as he came across in defence and passed too early. Steward didn’t have to break his stride and simply moved on to pressure Telea. Never scanned the easier option of passing to the two supporting players on the inside. Beauden Barrett showed how it is done when he put Telea in for his try. Another point from the game is that the rush defence is hard to maintain as the number of phases increases. From scrums the defensive line only contains backs who all have roughly the same pace. Once forwards are involved, the defence has players with variable speeds often leading to a jagged line. It also tends to lose pace overall giving the attack more time and space. Beauden Barrett’s break to set up Telea’s try came because Baxter went in to tackle McKenzie and Steward went out to cover Telea. Barrett has a massive hole to run through, then commits Steward by passing as late as possible and Telea scores untouched. Another comment I would make is that Ben Earl is a good player and generally an excellent defender but he made three significant misses in the series, two of which led to All Black tries. Got stepped by Perofeta in Dunedin for Savea’s try, missed McKenzie in Auckland leading to what should have been a certain try being set up by Perofeta and was one of the tacklers who couldn’t stop Savea in the leadup to Telea’s first try. Perhaps he should contact Owen Farrell to pick up a few tips from ‘tackle school’.

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