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Welsh Rugby
Wales sweat on North's availability
ESPN Staff
October 3, 2013
George North enjoys his first Saints try © PA Photos
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Northampton Saints boss Jim Mallinder has admitted he is yet to decide whether to release Wales star George North for their Test against Australia on November 30.

The Australians will be sick of the sight of North after he helped the British & Irish Lions put the Wallabies to the sword during their three Test series in the summer. North is currently rampaging down the wings at Northampton and scored his first try for his new side last Friday.

North is likely to feature heavily in Warren Gatland's plans for the autumn Tests but the Kiwi may have to cope without his star winger for the final game against Australia. The match falls outside of the official International Rugby Board window for Tests so it is the Saints' prerogative over whether they opt to make North available or not.

The Saints face Worcester Warriors on the same day and Mallinder was coy when asked about North's availability on Wednesday. "It would be our choice. We will decide what's best for him," he told the Daily Mail. "The club and George will have that discussion and will do what's right for us both."

The Welsh regions are currently battling to keep a number of their top players in the regional system amid interest from across the Channel. Lions captain Sam Warburton and star fullback Leigh Halfpenny are both out of contract at the end of the season while Alun-Wyn Jones, Ian Evans and Adam Jones' deals are also coming to an end.

Wales assistant Rob Howley hopes their premier players will stay at their respective region, but admits that if they do chose to move on to pastures new, then having a clause in their contract clearing them to play in these matches outside of the international window, is a priority.

"We have communicated with our players who are sensing opportunities outside of Wales, in England and France, to make sure in their contract negotiations they have availability outside the IRB regulations in terms of preparation for international rugby," Howley told the Western Mail. "We will see in the autumn series that players like George North, Dan Lydiate and Jamie Roberts all have the availability.

"We ultimately want our players to play in Wales. The kids want to go to the Blues and watch the likes of Leigh Halfpenny and Sam Warburton or to the Scarlets and Ospreys to see Jonathan Davies or Alun Wyn Jones.

"It is important for the next generation to see players staying in Wales because the fans want to see the next superstars of the game. It is vitally important we keep them here as long as we can."

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