Saints wing North starts for Wales against Italy

George North's most recent Saints appearance came against London Irish on February 17 (picture: Sharon Lucey)
George North's most recent Saints appearance came against London Irish on February 17 (picture: Sharon Lucey)

George North will start for Wales against Italy on Sunday - eight days after the furore surrounding his non-selection for Saints.

North did not feature in the Aviva Premiership game against Sale Sharks last Saturday, which was a rest weekend during the Six Nations.

After the game, Saints' technical coaching consultant Alan Gaffney was asked why the winger was not involved.

And Gaffney replied: "It's a pretty good question and it's a very difficult one to answer at this moment in time.

"You'd probably have to ask George.

"We picked the side that actually wanted to be out on the pitch and the best side for Northampton.

"I haven't spoken to George personally about it, but I'm just disappointed he wasn't here."

It was then reported that North was not happy with Gaffney hinting that the 25-year-old did not want to play against Sale.

Saints' interim head coach Alan Dickens was asked to clarify the situation during the club's media day on Tuesday.

And Dickens said: "In terms of the timeline, every single week we have to select a side to play for the Saints and that’s based on being physically ready and psychologically ready.

“It was decided that George wasn’t in a position to play for Northampton.

“He was here last week and we had conversations with him so that (North not playing against Sale) was the decision we came to.

“There was definitely not a breakdown in communication and I have not got a clue where that’s come from.

“I’ve not seen a great deal of reaction - I’m not one for social media - but I have read a couple of accounts and it’s out there, it’s been said and we need to move on.

“George has got his Wales head on and from our point of view, we’ve got our Anglo-Welsh Cup head on (Saints travel to Bath on Friday night) and all of our focus is on the players who are here and want to play for the Saints.”

North will be making his first Six Nations start of 2018 this weekend, having previously appeared from the bench in games against England (February 10) and Ireland (February 24).

His most recent outing for Saints came on February 17, when he started in the win against London Irish at Franklin's Gardens.