Six Nations 2014: Domestic strife will hit Welsh hat-trick dreams, says George North


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The Independent Online

George North fears the ongoing ructions between the Welsh Rugby Union and the regions threaten the stability and form of the national side. The Wales wing also expressed sympathy for his international team-mates who face an uncertain club future as they begin preparations for their bid to become the first side to win the Six Nations for three successive seasons.

North left Scarlets to join Northampton for the start of this season and described having the security of a long-term club deal as a "massive load off his mind".

Seven of his team-mates, Sam Warburton, Leigh Halfpenny, Alun Wyn Jones, Sam Warburton, Rhys Priestland, Adam Jones and Scott Williams, have been offered contracts by both their regions and the WRU, with the two parties unable to agree a way ahead for the domestic game in Wales. There were further talks between the two in Cardiff, with Warren Gatland, the Wales coach, also present.

"I see a lot of my good mates going through it and it is not a fun place to be," said North. "It's a difficult time. The problem is the only thing it's going to damage is our national game and that's a real shame. It is disappointing they can't really sort out the differences to benefit the greater good in the long run. Something needs to be done pretty soonish or we are going to see some dips in the national game."

North is among several leading Wales players, including Jamie Roberts, Mike Phillips and Dan Lydiate, who have left the regional sides. Ospreys' Ryan Jones was being linked with a move to Bristol next season.

"It's difficult because there's nothing really to stay for at the moment," said North. "It has taken a massive load off my mind as well. Once I knew what I was doing I felt more chilled and could get back to the rugby side of things.

"At the moment for all the boys, [they're] not distracted from their work but you know when you have got things going on behind the scenes it's very difficult to focus on the day-to-day grind when you don't know where you are going to be next year."

North was speaking at a round-table event staged by BT Sport to discuss the first half of the Premiership season. Northampton sit snugly in second place with North having settled into his first campaign in England. "It's going well, I feel comfortable there," he said.