Saints tight-lipped on North transfer
April 4, 2013
George North is one of Wales' hottest properties © Getty Images
The Northampton Saints are yet to confirm the signing of Wales star George North despite several reports suggesting the winger has decided to swap the Scarlets for the Aviva Premiership side.
North has been linked with a cross-Severn switch to the Saints over the past month with the Welsh Rugby Union and the his region the Scarlets engaged in a very public war of words regarding the winger's future. He is one of Wales' brightest prospects and played a key role in their triumphant 2012 and 2013 Six Nations campaigns.
But with the Welsh regions reportedly struggling financially, the WRU at the weekend accused the Scarlets of trying to cash in on North by touting him to French clubs without his knowledge. This claim was denied by the Scarlets and they went on to say that they tabled a three-year offer to the winger's representatives in an attempt to keep him in Wales.
The WRU has since invited all four regions to meet in an attempt to thrash out a deal which will see Wales' best players centrally contracted. They also called on the regions to "halt the practice of selling Welsh-qualified senior players for profit before their contracts are concluded".
But North, it seems, will have already left the Scarlets by the time the regions sit down to try and find some compromise. He has been strongly linked with the Saints and reports in both the English and Welsh press on Thursday claim that he has agreed to a three-year deal ahead of next season. He currently has one year left on his contract so it seems likely that the Saints will have to pay a transfer fee for him with the widely reported figure standing between £200,000 and £250,000.
The Saints are staying tight-lipped on the move with a spokesman from the club telling the Telegraph: "It's speculation and Northampton Saints do not comment on speculation." But their chairman Leon Barwell confirmed last week that the winger was on their radar but they wanted to give him time and space to make his mind up.
"It's a big decision for George and we don't want to put undue pressure on him," Barwell told The Northampton Chronicle and Echo. "He's got to make sure that when he makes the decision it's the right one for him as an individual on the basis he really wants to come to Northampton. We are giving him some time and space to do that."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Top 14, Super Rugby and the Aviva Premiership with fireworks and monsters both featuring
Firdose Moonda looks at the moves towards greater integration within South African rugby ... and what the future holds
It is 100 years this week since the last international match played in Europe before the outbreak of World War One. Rewind remembers the fixture's longest-living survivor
Martin Gillingham looks ahead to what he believes is the most remarkable ever climax to the league phase of the Top 14