George North thankful to Saints for flexibility over Wales duty

Saints and Wales star George North (Picture: Linda Dawson)

Saints and Wales star George North (Picture: Linda Dawson)

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George North has hailed Saints for allowing him to have the best of both worlds by playing international rugby outside the IRB window.

The 21-year-old was given permission to play for Wales against Australia on November 30, despite Premiership clubs having reached an agreement that only England players can be released for matches outside of the window.

Saints were called in front of a Premiership Rugby panel on Wednesday and were hit with a £60,000 fine, which they will not appeal.

But North is backing his club 100 per cent and admits the freedom to play for his country whenever selected was part of his decision to join Northampton from Scarlets during the summer.

“For me I came to the club because I want to improve myself as a player and Northampton said they wanted me as well,” he said.

“I’ve enjoyed every second of being here.

“Northampton allow me to play quality rugby week in week out but also allow me to pursue my Wales career. I’ve got the utmost respect for the club for wanting me here.

“I back them 100 per cent for giving me the opportunity to pursue my Wales career but also play top rugby week to week as well.”

And he added: “For me it’s a massive honour to put the (Wales) jersey on and if they say ‘George, we want you to play’ I’m going to play.

“Thank goodness the Saints have been so understanding with me and given me the opportunity to pursue my international career.”

Meanwhile, Saints are set to tie up contract renewals for more first-team stars in the coming days.

The club announced on Tuesday that Tom Wood, Sam Dickinson, Christian Day, Mike Haywood and Ben Nutley had all re-signed.

And several other players are set to commit their futures to the club imminently.

Saints could also dip into the transfer market to bring in a new back after the departure of wing Vasily Artemyev earlier this week.