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The reasons for North's return to Wales begin to emerge

By Jack Davies
Northampton Saints’ George North.

Wales coach Warren Gatland says George North will be free to choose his next move after electing to leave Northampton Saints for a return to his homeland at the end of the season.


North will sign a National Dual Contract with the Welsh Rugby Union, giving the national set-up greater control over one of their prized assets.

The former Scarlets wing has suffered with injury problems over the years – most notably repeated concussions – but Gatland is confident the change will be of huge benefit to Wales and North himself.

“It’s massive, it’s huge,” he said ahead of Wales’ clash with New Zealand, which North will miss.

“I think the big thing on that is, I think a lot of the players recognise that, with the National Dual Contracts, the benefit that those top players have in limiting the number of games that they play for their clubs.

“They get a minimum of eight weeks break in the summer and are managed from a national point of view, and looking at trying to extend the length of players’ careers and potentially finding them something at the end of their career as well.

“We’ve seen the benefit of Jonathan Davies coming back from France and his form. He’s unfortunately picked up an injury at the moment but he’s benefited from coming back.


“George made a decision, not a financial decision, he just felt that it was the best time, having had that experience away, to come home and think about the next four or five years and what was best thing for his rugby.

“The best thing for his rugby, he decided, was to be back in Wales.”

Discussing whether North would return to the Scarlets or opt for a move to the Ospreys, Cardiff Blues or Dragons, Gatland added: “It’s down to him.

“Having spoken to George, there was no pressure on him after he made the decision to come back now. Take a little bit of time, see what’s going to happen.

“One of the regions doesn’t have a coach for next season, so maybe wait to see who that appointment is, see what’s happening with the other regions before he decides where he would like to go and whether that region wants him to go there.”




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