Wales waiting on North fitness

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 18:45
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NEWS: Wales will hope star wing George North can prove his fitness for English Premiership club Northampton later this week ahead of next month's opening international against Australia in Cardiff.

North damaged a hand during Northampton's European Champions Cup defeat by Castres last weekend.

However, the 24-year-old could feature in the Saints' Premiership match at home to Gloucester on Friday.

North is one of several fitness concerns along with the Scarlets trio of Liam Williams, Jake Ball and Scott Williams ahead of Wales' match against the Wallabies at the Millennium Stadium on November 5.

"We're in dialogue with the Saints and he [North] is working hard to be fit for the weekend," Wales forwards coach Robin McBryde said on Tuesday.

Fullback Liam Williams [ankle] and lock forward Ball [rib] both suffered injuries in the Scarlets' Champions Cup defeat at Saracens on Saturday.

Scott Williams, a centre, withdrew ahead of that game with an ankle problem.

"Liam hasn't been ruled out of the Australia match yet, we're working hard with the medics to see how he reacts to that," McBryde said.

"The same goes for Jake with his rib injury. It's pretty sore and it's quite hard to determine how long they're going to take.

"The same can be said for Scott but he's back running and training."

Taulupe Faletau has definitely been ruled out of the Australia match with a knee injury, but the Bath No.8 is expected to feature at some stage during Wales' remaining end-of-year Tests against Argentina, Japan and South Africa.

But, fitness concerns aside, Wales will be able to call on their England-based players for the Australia match, even though the fixture takes place outside World Rugby's official window for international matches.

England's Premiership clubs usually do not release non-England players for Test fixtures outside the window but have agreed to do so for the weekend of November 4-6 in a "gesture of flexibility".

That means the five England-based players in the Wales squad - North, Jamie Roberts, Luke Charteris, Ross Moriarty and Tomas Francis - are all now set to be available to face Australia.

"It's a positive," McBryde said. "It's great news for us because that means we can have a week's good preparation with players who will hopefully be involved in that first game."

Agence France-Presse