Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

George North's availability for Australia showdown uncertain

George North's availability for Wales' clash with Australia remains uncertain as Northampton say the winger is only contracted for Tests inside World Rugby's international window.

Wales' interim head coach Rob Howley on Tuesday said that Saints wing North and Harlequins centre Jamie Roberts have told him they will be available to face the Wallabies in Cardiff on November 5.

But Premiership Rugby - umbrella organisation for England's 12 Aviva Premiership clubs - do not release non-England players who ply their trade in the top flight for Tests that fall outside World Rugby's autumn international window.

Asked if North would play against Australia, Northampton backs coach Alan Dickens said: "I don't know.

"George has got the same arrangement as the rest of our non-England internationals. They're playing in the international window.

"Our England internationals have an extra week, arranged through Premier Rugby.

"I've seen what's been in the press in terms of saying he is and Jamie Roberts is.

"(But) we've had no contact from the WRU (Welsh Rugby Union)."

It is likely that any WRU negotiations would be with Premiership Rugby, rather than individual clubs.

The Australia game is outside of the official three-weekend slot - Wales also face Argentina, Japan and South Africa next month - and Press Association Sport understands that Premiership Rugby's policy is unchanged.

Northampton were fined £60,000 in 2013 when they released North for an out-of-window Test against Australia.

He has subsequently signed a new Saints deal, which Dickens suggested saw his contract aligned with Northampton's other non-England internationals.


From Belfast Telegraph