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Mixed messages over North availability to face Australia

George North

Northampton Saints play an Anglo-Welsh Cup match against Newcastle the day after Wales v Australia

George North’s availability for Wales’ Test against Australia is unclear, with his club Northampton and the Welsh Rugby Union contradicting each other.

The game on 5 November is outside World Rugby’s Test window, and English clubs do not have to release players for it.

“As it stands, George will not be available for that game,” Saints team manager Paul Shields said.

The WRU, however, says both 24-year-old North and Harlequins centre Jamie Roberts, 29, can play.

Gloucester flanker Ross Moriarty, 22, has said he expects to miss the match.

The decision to release England-based Wales internationals is in the hands of Premier Rugby, the umbrella organisation for England’s top-tier clubs.

“I know discussions are ongoing with the WRU and the [English clubs’] chairmen but I’m not privy to those conversations,” Shields told BBC Radio Northampton.

But Welsh rugby’s governing body, the WRU, said: “To reiterate what coach Rob Howley said on Tuesday, we have been informed by those players detailed that they are and will be available.”

Following the match against Australia, Wales face Argentina, Japan and South Africa later in November. Those Tests fall inside World Rugby’s international window, which mean clubs must release their players.

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The decision by Premiership clubs on whether to release players for the first match will also have ramifications for Harlequins centre Roberts and Bath number eight Taulupe Faletau.

The WRU says Faletau can face Australia, but the player is injured and is not expected to be fit.

Earlier this week, Wales coach Howley appeared to suggest North, Roberts and Faletau had special dispensation to play against the Wallabies.

However, Shields said: “George is no different than any other non-English player. There’s no side letter that exists or anything in his contract that says we will release George to play.

“We’re governed by Premier Rugby, who as a company will not release players outside the international window.”

Harlequins have made no comment on the availability of Roberts.

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Ross Moriarty featured for Wales in their summer tour against New Zealand

Meanwhile, Moriarty has said: “For the games after [Australia], I’ll hope to be involved and have a good chance to play again.”

Following fine performances for Wales during their summer tour in New Zealand, Moriarty has continued that form with Gloucester and received another call-up.

“Sometimes I’ve been left with my head in my hands worrying [about a call-up] but I had a conversation a couple of weeks ago and it was a pretty big hint,” he told BBC Radio Gloucestershire.

“It’s been on my mind for a while now. But as long as I can keep on performing and doing the best I can to help the team then that’s what I’ll keep on doing.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-union/37712596