Wales hopeful over Geoge North’s fitness for Six Nations opener against Scotland

Wales assistant coach Neil Jenkins is hopeful wing George North will be in contention for Saturday’s Six Nations opener against Scotland.

The Northampton player, who has not featured for Warren Gatland’s side since the final game of last season’s Six Nations, is recovering from a knee injury sustained last month.

North has not started a game since October but came off the bench for the Saints against Saracens nine days ago, only to withdraw from the team that defeated Sale in the Anglo-Welsh Cup on Saturday.

“George has trained pretty hard with us last week, and he didn’t feel quite right last Saturday,” Jenkins told WRU TV.

“Hopefully, he will be involved for selection this week.”

Gatland’s Six Nations preparations have been marred by injuries to key personnel, with Sam Warburton, Jonathan Davies, Rhys Webb and Dan Lydiate to miss the entirety of the seven-week tournament.

Meanwhile, Rhys Patchell is understood to be the favourite to start at fly-half for the Cardiff encounter in the absence of Dan Biggar, who is unlikely to be available until the final two fixtures against Italy and France in March.

“It will be the first time in a while we’ll be without Dan and (Bath fly-half) Rhys (Priestland),” Jenkins said.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for the other boys to put their hands up and try to get selected. They’ve all been in fantastic form for their respective clubs and regions.”

Gregor Townsend’s Scotland come into the meeting on the back of a strong run of form which included an emphatic victory over Australia in the Autumn internationals and Jenkins is in no doubt that the match is of “massive” importance.

“In the Six Nations, it’s important to start well,” Jenkins said. “It’s a home game and it’s one we have to win, there is no doubt about it.

“For us to get off to a winning start is massive, because if you don’t, you can end up putting yourself under massive pressure when we go to Twickenham a week later.

“We played some good rugby in the autumn and didn’t win all our games, but we are looking forward to it.”