Barwell confirms North talks
March 28, 2013
Northampton Saints are keen to bring in George North for next season © Getty Images
Northampton Saints chairman Leon Barwell has confirmed that the club are in talks with Wales and Scarlets' wing George North.
The Saints have been chasing the 20-year-old for a number of months and have tried to put themselves in a position to head off any mega-money offers from French clubs for a player who has been capped 31 times for Wales and who was a key component in their run to the World Cup semi-finals and 2012 Six Nations grand slam.
"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."
If North does move to Franklin's Gardens, he will be the biggest arrival yet for a team that has been quick to sign up a number of new faces for next season. They have already brought in Samoa scrum-half Kahn Fotuali'i, England prop Alex Corbisiero and Australian front-rower Salesi Ma'afu, while former England and London Wasps fly-half Alex King will be their new backs' coach.
"We want to be the best team in the world and we want to compete with other clubs," centre George Pisi said. "So to be the best we've got to try and get the best players and see how they work out with those we have got at the moment."
Pisi and Fotuali'i are well acquainted having played together for Samoa for a number of years. They both started the 26-19 win over Wales at the Millennium Stadium in November and featured together at the 2011 World Cup.
It meant that the former Clermont Auvergne man needed little help in persuading his long-time team-mate to move to Franklin's Gardens.
"He asked me how it was over here and all I gave him was good comments about Northampton," Pisi said. "He enjoys the team and he's seen the environment and hopefully when he comes to Northampton he'll excel as he is at the moment.
"He'll bring a lot of experience and a lot of physicality. He's a really exciting player and it's a good thing for our team. He's kind of like me. He keeps a smile on his face all the time, he has good banter with the boys and he'll bring something to the team next year."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Red cards, Samu Manoa, free-flowing Bath, improving Falcons and long-term gains - it's the Monday Maul
Greg Growden stares into his crystal ball to see what rugby 2015 has in store for us. Tongue in cheek? Maybe. Maybe not. We think much may come to pass
From Burgess to Boudjellal, Haskell to Honey Badgers and retirees to Retallick, here's the Quotes of 2014
It was another bumper year of rugby action in 2014; join us as we take a look back at some of the season's top statistics