George North has been left out of Wales’ squad for Sunday’s Six Nations trip to Scotland.
The Saints star suffered two hefty blows to the head in the defeat to England last Friday, but remained on the field until the end of the game.
He was said to be free of concussion symptoms, but was forced to undertake a graduated return to play protocol this week, with Welsh Rugby Union medical manager Prav Mathema saying he could play at Murrayfield.
However, Wales boss Warren Gatland has taken the decision to leave out North, who suffered concussion in a Test match against New Zealand in November.
“Potentially, he was available this week,” said Gatland, who has selected Scarlets wing Liam Williams in North’s place for this weekend’s game. “He was in the middle of the protocols in terms of the concussion stuff.
“But we just felt that he had taken a couple of knocks last week, he took another knock against the All Blacks in the autumn, and from our point of view one of the things we pride ourselves on is the welfare of the players and putting the players first.
“The decision was made as much about him being a young man and making sure he is being looked after from a welfare point of view.
“If we had seen the incident, we would have done something about it.
“As far as I am concerned, our medical team have followed the protocols.
“I am more than happy for you to talk to any of our players about our approach to any of the medical stuff in terms of backing the players 100 per cent.
“George is completely symptom-free.
“We try not to let external pressure affect our decisions, but look, he is a young man. He was out for three or four weeks after a knock in the autumn.
“I spoke to him this morning. He is not a happy man, I can tell you that. He is disappointed that we have ruled him out.
“I said to him it is not a rugby decision, it is a welfare decision about him and his longevity in the game.
“I said to him ‘you have taken a couple of knocks on the weekend, and the last thing that you need or the game needs is that if you get another knock this Sunday, we don’t need that in the game at the moment.’
“So the precautionary thing is to make a positive decision about George and his welfare in the future.”