The Cardiff Blues have declared their interest in signing Wales star George North, following the news on Wednesday that he would be returning to Wales next season from Northampton on a WRU National Dual Contract, according to Wales Online.
But exactly to which region the 25-year-old two-time Lions tourist who has racked up 69 caps and scored 30 tries since his debut against South Africa in 2010, will go to has still not been decided.
Speaking earlier in the week, Wales head coach Warren Gatland had this to say:
“We will work with George in the coming months to determine which region has the best playing environment to suit him”.
And potential suitors have not taken long in expressing their interest for the powerful 17 stone North Walian, currently recovering from a knee injury, with Cardiff Blues publicly saying they would love to acquire his services.
Speaking about North, Cardiff Blues Chief Executive Richard Holland said:
“We would be 100 per cent interested in having George North with us on a NDC. He is a proven quality player”.
Introduced in 2014 to try and keep Wales’ best players in Wales, National Dual Contracts see the WRU paying 60% of the player’s salary with the region stumping up the rest.
Under the agreement the returning player’s region of origin has the first option to sign the player.
But North will not be heading to the Scarlets, whom he notched up a 104 appearances for and scored 32 tries from 2010-2013.
Scarlets coach Wayne Pivac has suggested that the West Wales region would not be interested in bringing the winger back to Parc Y Scarlets because they have lots of exciting youngsters coming through the ranks in the wing department, as well as the fact that players on NDC’s are unavailable for long periods of the season.
The Dragons who were taken over by the WRU in the summer and who have already signed some good Welsh youngsters in the form of Bristol pair Rhodri Davies and Jordan Williams for next season, and who are set to sign Wales and Lions back-rower Ross Moriarty from Gloucester, are sure to be interested.
These are exciting times at the Dragons and North may well be attracted by the region’s ambitious plans for the future and the chance to play in a talented young backline.
While the struggling Ospreys are likely to throw their hat into the ring as well. Steve Tandy’s side have had some problems in that department as a result of injuries in the last couple of years with Eli Walker and Canadian Jeff Hassler injured on a regular basis.
North would undoubtedly strengthen that area.
It will be interesting to see where North ends up. But one thing is for sure – North’s return to Welsh rugby is a definite boost to the game in Wales.
Hefin Jones, Pundit Arena
Read More About: British and Irish lions, cardiff blues, Dragons rugby, eli walker, george north, gloucester rugby, Jeff Hassler, Jordan Williams, National Dual Contract, northampton saints, Ospreys Rugby, Rhodri Davies, Ross Moriarty, Steve Tandy, warren gatland