George North to leave Northampton Saints to return to Wales after signing national dual contract

The 25-year-old spent four seasons at the Saints

Jack Austin
Wednesday 22 November 2017 18:00
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North's destination has not yet been confirmed
North's destination has not yet been confirmed

George North will return to Wales from the start of the 2018/19 season after signing a national dual contract (NDC) to bring an end to a four-year stay at Northampton Saints.

The two-time British and Irish Lions tourist left the Scarlets in 2013 to play for Saints where he won the Aviva Premiership in his first season.

However, a series of injuries, including some high-profile concussions, has stunted his progression across the River Severn and he will return to his native Wales at the end of the current season.

No club has been revealed as the 25-year-old’s destination, with more than one of the Welsh regions thought to be interested in securing his services.

In a statement by the Welsh Rugby Union, North said: “As a proud Welshman, I'm excited to be heading back to Wales and to have signed an NDC. I feel that the time is right and the opportunity to sign an NDC, with the benefits that come with it and the support it provides from the national squad set-up, is a great option for me.

“I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to be part of Northampton Saints for last four years and I have loved every minute of my time here. I am excited to see what we can achieve this season and I will be putting everything I have into helping the squad fulfil our potential this year. I would like to thank everyone at the Saints, especially all of the supporters.”

Head coach Warren Gatland, who has championed Wales’ top players returning to the country by enforcing the so-called ‘Gatland’s Law’ which was revoked last month, spoke of his delight at the move.

George North left the Lions tour early due to injury

“It is fantastic that George is returning to Wales on a National Dual Contract,” said Gatland. “At just 25, George is in the prime of his career and signing an NDC, with all the playing and non-playing benefits associated with it, will allow him to flourish.

“It is great for the game here in Wales to see a player of George's stature and reputation return home to play his domestic rugby. We will work with George to determine the best fit for him and will look to announce where he will play in the New Year.”

North’s return comes after Leigh Halfpenny left Toulon for the Scarlets in order to progress his international career.

The winger, who is currently absent from Wales’ autumn international after a sprain to his posterior cruciate ligament, scored 26 tries in 54 league appearances for Northampton in his four seasons.

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