Wales star North could be back for Saints’ battle with Bath

BACK SOON? - George North could return for Saints at Bath
BACK SOON? - George North could return for Saints at Bath

Jim Mallinder says Wales’ decision to omit George North from Sunday’s Six Nations game against Scotland is ‘an interesting one’.

And the Saints director of rugby could opt to field the wing at Bath in the Aviva Premiership clash on February 21.

North suffered two hefty blows to the head in his country’s 21-16 defeat to England at the Millennium Stadium last Friday.

He has been undergoing concussion protocols this week, but is symptom-free and could have travelled to Murrayfield this weekend.

But Wales boss Warren Gatland says leaving North out ‘is not a rugby decision, it is a welfare decision’, admitting the Saints star was ‘disappointed’ not to have been selected.

And Mallinder said: “The positive thing is that he has recovered, he’s had no symptoms and has been passed fit to play this weekend.

“I’ve noticed that they haven’t selected him, which is an interesting one seeing as he is fit, but that’s life.

“George is now going to have to work hard and get back in the team.”

Saints could have picked North to play in the Aviva Premiership game against London Irish at Franklin’s Gardens on Friday.

But Mallinder was not prepared to consider that and feels next week’s clash with Bath at the Recreation Ground - Wales have that weekend off - is a more realistic target.

“I’ll be having a chat with George,” he said. “We’re in no rush and we certainly haven’t been thinking of selecting him this weekend.

“Potentially we could have, because he’s been passed fit, but it’s best for him to make sure he does fully recover from that bang and make sure he’s fit for next week.”

Prior to Wales’ clash with England, Gatland had expressed concerns about North’s form, admitting he may opt for Williams ahead of the Saints man.

But Mallinder has no issue with his player’s contribution, with North having already scored 12 times for his club this season.

“He’s been great for us,” said the Saints boss. “He’s one of our best players.

“He played against the Ospreys in October, we moved him to centre and he scored four unbelievable tries.

“He’s been magnificent for us.

“Certain coaches have got their views. Mine is that he’s excellent for us and I’m looking forward to getting him back.”