Saints star North will need wildcard to play for Wales

Saints wing George North will need a wildcard to earn selection for Wales this season after being captured by '˜Gatland's Law'.

Friday, 9th September 2016, 4:43 pm
Updated Thursday, 15th September 2016, 4:03 pm
George North (right) will rely on a wildcard to play for Wales (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

The ‘Law’, otherwise known as the WRU Senior Player Selection Policy, only allows Wales boss Gatland to select three non-Welsh-based players as wildcards.

Seven men have been captured for the current season, with North joined on the list by Bath duo Taulupe Faletau and Rhys Priestland, Harlequins centre Jamie Roberts, Gloucester’s Nicky Thomas, Bristol’s Rhodri Williams and Toyota Verblitz lock Dominic Day.

Players are captured by the ‘Law’ if they signed their current contract after it became active.

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North had appealed on the grounds that there were no offers from Welsh regions when he penned his contract extension at Saints in November, 2015.

However, the appeal failed and he will now hope to be one of the three players picked from the list of seven.

WRU Group chief executive Martyn Phillips said: “The RSA (Rugby Services Agreement) is the foundation of our professional game in that it is the basis on which we collaborate with the regions to ensure we make decisions that are in the best interests of the game as a whole and for a broad range of stakeholders.

“We want to create the best environment possible for the players. Having our best players in Wales will help the regions to be successful and their presence will inspire the next generation of supporters and players. We know that supporters want to see the best players playing on a regular basis.

“Players based in Wales will benefit as, together with the regions, we can manage the players game time, development and welfare. We can work closely on player release and have our younger players learning from more experienced professionals. We know that coaches also value regular and easy access to players.

“With three wildcard selections available for each campaign during the 2016/17 season decisions will have to be made on selection.

“Players have been aware that there would come a point, if they left or signed new contracts outside Wales, that the policy would impact on selection.

“We are aware that supporters may be concerned that we will not be selecting from a full list of players, but the alternative where players increasingly play outside Wales isn’t sustainable for the long-term success of our game whether that be professional or community rugby.

“Clearly the player ultimately has the choice but we will do all we can to ensure that playing in Wales gives the player the best professional rugby experience possible.

“With the likes of Jonathan Davies, Bradley Davies, Matthew Morgan and Dan Lydiate returning to play their club rugby in Wales, and the likes of Alun Wyn Jones, Sam Warburton, Dan Biggar and Rhys Webb choosing to stay in the light of the policy, we believe this is a strategy that will promote the long term health of the game.”

Wales’ squad for the 2016 Under Armour Series, which kicks off against Australia in Cardiff on November 5, will be announced on Tuesday, October 18.