Wales wing George North hit the headlines this week following comments made by Northampton Saints technical consultant Alan Gaffney to BBC Radio Northampton, in which he suggested North wasn’t keen on playing for the Premiership outfit against Sale on Saturday.
“I’m just disappointed he wasn’t here,” said Gaffney on Saturday after the defeat to Sale.
When asked if North didn’t want to play, Gaffney said: “That’s a very difficult question to answer for me. I haven’t spoken to George personally.
“In one sense it’s probably best to ask George. We picked a side that actually wanted to be out on the pitch and picked the best side for the game for Northampton.”
These comments were not well received by Saints fans, using social media to vent their frustration.
@George_North Snow Day? People get fired for worse in the real world
— Jïm Smïths Bärmyärmy (@gcoufc) March 3, 2018
— Ospreylian (@theospreysblog) March 3, 2018
The rugby public has since awaited a response from North but unsure if any would in fact come.
One of sorts came today when BBC Radio 5 live reported that sources close to the 25-year-old said that he feels ‘hung out to dry’ by Northampton’s interim coach.
It is understood that North and previous boss Jim Mallinder had an unwritten agreement that the winger wouldn’t play on 6 Nations rest weekends, suggesting the situation appears to be more down to a lack of communication between player and coach, than anything else.
There is still, however, a sense in certain quarters that North has shown a lack of commitment to his club and plays better for Wales than for his club side.
RugbyPass decided to have a look at this public perception and see how credible it really is.
With a career as fragmented by injuries as North’s, doing so wasn’t easy.
We looked at the 320 minutes that North played in last years 6 Nations and contrasted it to the 502 minutes he has played for Northampton so far this season and the results are fascinating.
In the categories of most importance, North performs better for Northampton as indicated by the above video.
For Northampton, North beats more defenders, makes more metres, misses fewer tackles, while also making more tackles in the process.
The only category where he falls short is in points scored and while it’s admittedly a key area, the difference is minimal.
For every 80 minutes of playing time in the time period, North has statistically performed better for Saints.
While this may not be the popular consensus, it’s hard to argue with the facts.
In terms of perception his career this season hasn’t lived up to the heady heights of his younger days but the reality is, this is probably due to the toll repeated injuries have on an athlete, not his professionalism.
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now