George North is heading back to Wales and will wear scarlet, black, blue, or black and red next season. No-one seems to know yet, least of all those marketing folk aiming to shift some extra replica jerseys this summer. Robin Davey says it’s time for George to put his finger on the map.
The season has little more than a month to run, yet we still don’t know where star winger George North is heading on his return to Wales this summer. Even more to the point, does North himself know?
It’s now five months since the Welsh Rugby Union announced that North would be coming back to Wales on a national dual contract after spending the last five years at Northampton.
The destination was up to the player, though the Scarlets would have first option for his services as the region of his origin before he flew the nest.
But he left under a bit of a cloud and though there seemed to be some flirting taking place in a kind of will he, won’t he situation, a likely coming together again now seems to have developed into an uncoupling as Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow would described it.
All the regions are understandably interested in acquiring the services of such a global star, a massive presence who stands at 6ft 4ins and weighs in at 17st 2lbs, with a try-scoring record to die for since he announced his arrival on the international stage with a double against South Africa at the tender age of 18 years, 214 days.
Since then, he has won a further 72 caps and made three appearances for the Lions on top of 41 for the Scarlets and 104 for Northampton.
Little wonder, then, that the four regions were licking their lips at the prospect of signing such a player on his return to Wales.
Wales coach Warren Gatland insisted North would take his time over a decision and that there was no rush, the important point being that he would be returning to Wales.
Since then we have all drawn a blank, there has been total silence, North himself saying nothing.
The Scarlets were interested, then they weren’t, and as if to signal they’re fed up with hanging around they have now signed Cheetahs full back/wing Clayton Blommetjies.
They’ve got a super newcomer there for he was brilliant against the Dragons at Rodney Parade recently, earning the man-of-the-match award, showing pace, elusiveness and flair, playing with bags of adventure. He will suit the Scarlets down to the ground.
So, then there were three in the chase for North. The Dragons were interested from the start and publicly said so, but that seems to have cooled in recent weeks as their recruitment process among the backs involves finding a ten rather than a wing where they are pretty well off.
And in any case, their dismal record, without a win since September, would hardly prove a drawing card for North.
So, it now appears to be down to a straight fight between the Ospreys and Cardiff Blues for North’s signature.
The Ospreys have come out publicly, stating how they feel North would be a perfect fit and cite the signing of Cheetahs prop Thomas Botha, Welsh pair Scott Williams and Aled Davies and Namibian international Lesley Klim as proof they’re out to recapture former glories.
As for Cardiff Blues, they’ve been as guarded as North himself about their intentions. They’ve been quiet on the recruitment front, too, while there’s little doubt they’ll miss head coach Danny Wilson, who is joining up with Dai Young at Wasps.
Newly appointed replacement John Mulvihill, a little known Australian, though a coach with a decent enough track record, would clearly like a big name attraction and there must be a real appeal to North about linking up with the capital city side.
They’ve performed really well in the second half of the season, reviving big-time, and have reached the semi-finals of the European Challenge Cup, where they will entertain Pau.
They are gunning for a place in the Champions Cup next season and could well achieve that – another big attraction for North.
Is that what he’s waiting for? Confirmation that he will be in the major European competition and not the second tier? Again, nobody knows. Is North dithering? Is his mind made up or not? We’d all like to know the outcome.
You’d think by the middle of April he would have made up his mind and made an announcement.
Instead of that, we’re all left in the dark. Will it be the Ospreys? Will it be Cardiff Blues? Might it even be the Dragons?
Come on George, get off that fence and enlighten us. Surely you know by now. Or do you?