Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Saints: North is 'okay'

Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder played down fears over George North, who was carried off the pitch on a stretcher following a blow to the head in the Saints' 52-30 victory over Wasps.

North missed one RBS 6 Nations game after being concussed but carried on playing against England when he was twice hit in the head last month, and there were worrying scenes on Friday when he took a knee to the head from Nathan Hughes.

The British and Irish Lions winger lay motionless on the ground for a few anxious moments but then started moving shortly afterwards as medics attended to him.

Mallinder said: "He is okay now; he is up and walking about in the dressing room. It is a knock to his head, which is not good.

"We will look after him and make sure he comes back when he is right."

Hughes was sent off for kneeing North in the head in the 35th minute as the Northampton man scored his second try, but the Wasps number eight protested his innocence.

Mallinder, though, believes the challenge was "reckless" and called for action.

He said: "It was a tremendous kick-off by Stephen Myler and a tremendous take by Samu Manoa.

"George North still had quite a lot to do and scored a good try in the corner. The opposition have got to then be very careful once the try is scored and it was reckless coming in with the knee.

"Some serious consequences happened because of it."

Wasps director of rugby Dai Young labelled the sending off "harsh".

Wasps had been leading 20-8 through two tries from Christian Wade, who went on to complete his hat-trick, when the incident occurred.

With Hughes off the field, Saints scored two tries in five minutes through a penalty try and Alex Corbisiero crossing the whitewash.

The hosts then added three more tries in the final eight minutes of the game with two from Ahsee Tuala and one from Ken Pisi.

Young said: "First of all I hope George is okay, Nathan has gone looking for him to make sure he is okay - he is not that type of person.

"When you slow anything down it looks worse than it actually is and when the crowd get on the referee's back - a young referee - there is only going to be one decision. We felt it was a bit harsh.

"That eight minutes before half-time killed us, and the last eight minutes made the scoreline look a lot worse. It was a little bit cruel we didn't come away with a bonus point.

"The officials work as a team, you have to have help from your touch judges. I am not saying for a minute we lost the game because of the referee, as Northampton played a lot of good stuff, I am just surprised a few things were given."


From Belfast Telegraph