Williams not surprised North decided to stay at Saints

George North has signed a new deal at Saints (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
George North has signed a new deal at Saints (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

Shane Williams says he is not surprised that George North opted to stay at Saints.

And Williams has backed the Wales star to rediscover his best form, insisting North has not stalled as a player.

Last week, the 23-year-old wing signed a new deal at Franklin’s Gardens, ending speculation that he could be tempted to return to former club Scarlets.

North joined Saints from the Welsh region in 2013 and has since scored 22 tries in 43 appearances.

And former Wales and British & Irish Lions winger Williams told the South Wales Evening Post: “It doesn’t surprise me one iota that George North has opted to stay with Northampton Saints rather than return to Wales and link with one of the regions.

“He is happy there and obviously feels that is where he will play his best rugby.

“Last season, in a campaign interrupted by injuries, he scored 14 tries for Saints and made a serious mark at Franklin’s Gardens.

“I understand why some people will be disappointed at his decision, because George is Welsh and we all want to see Welsh players playing for the regions. But, ultimately, it is his choice.

“He has probably made good friends up in Northampton and feels that now isn’t the time to be upping sticks.”

North has made four appearances for Saints this season, but is yet to score a try.

And he is also scoreless in his past four games for his country.

“His priority at the moment will be to rediscover his best form,” Williams added.

“He hasn’t scored in his last eight games — four for Wales and four for the Saints — prompting some to wonder if he’s stalled as a player. I don’t think that’s the case at all.

“There isn’t a sportsperson alive who hasn’t gone through a patchy spell at some point. I certainly did from around 2001 to 2002.

“My form dipped and I was making things worse by putting pressure on myself by reading newspapers and believing what people were saying that I wasn’t big enough.

“I tried to put on weight but around the same time I kept picking up injuries and found myself unable to kick on with my game. I learned from the whole experience.

“I learned that while it is fine to read what people are saying, ultimately you can’t get too down about what is being written or said.

“If George sticks to what he’s good at, tries will come for him again. He just has to believe in himself.”