Northampton Saints confirm George North talks to end contract

Northampton are in “open discussions” with George North’s representatives to end his Saints contract early ahead of Wales’ summer tour.

The Welsh Rugby Union said on Wednesday North and Gloucester back-row forward Ross Moriarty, who are both returning to Wales to join the Ospreys and Dragons respectively this summer, will tour.

They are among a 30-man group for Tests against South Africa in Washington DC on June 2 and Argentina on June 9 and 16.

But Worcester wing Josh Adams, Exeter prop Tomas Francis and Bath lock Luke Charteris will not be part of the squad.

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The Springboks clash falls outside World Rugby’s June Test window and England-based players have not been made available by Premiership Rugby for that fixture.

The WRU said Adams, Francis and Charteris have been released from the squad as they are unavailable for the whole tour. The official Test window next month is from June 9-23.

Regarding North, a Northampton spokesperson said: “We are in open discussions with George North’s representatives to end his contract with Northampton Saints early in order to enable him to tour with Wales this summer, given he is leaving the club at the end of the season anyway.”

Saints’ season ended on May 5, and it is understood North’s availability for the tour is unlikely to be an issue.

England-based trio miss out

Wales head coach Warren Gatland, meanwhile, has expressed his disappointment after releasing three England-based players from his squad.

“We are really disappointed that Josh, Tomas and Luke have to miss out on the opportunity to tour with Wales and play international rugby this summer,” said Gatland.

“It was a great opportunity for them to play for their country, press their claim in an important year, and it is a shame supporters will not get to see them in the red of Wales.

“The situation is very clear for players playing in England going forward and heading into a Rugby World Cup year.

“With the players unavailable to link up with the squad until the week of our second Test match, we have had to replace them in the squad.”

Dragons wing Ashton Hewitt and his fellow uncapped team-mate, back-row forward Aaron Wainwright, have been called into the squad, along with Ospreys prop Rhodri Jones.

Gatland had already decided to rest the vast majority of Wales players who toured New Zealand with the British and Irish Lions last summer, meaning players like Alun-Wyn Jones, Leigh Halfpenny, Liam Williams, Dan Biggar, Ken Owens and Justin Tipuric will not be involved.