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North & Roberts clear to play for Wales v Australia

George North (left) with Jamie Roberts

George North (left) and Jamie Roberts won Six Nations titles with Wales in 2012 and 2013

Wales will have England-based players George North and Jamie Roberts available to face Australia on 5 November after Premiership clubs agreed to a “one-off” change of policy.

The game falls outside World Rugby’s Test window, which contravenes English Premiership rules.

But Northampton wing North and Harlequins centre Roberts – plus Wales’ other England-based players – can play.

Premiership Rugby stressed its “gesture of flexibility” is a one-off.

“This comes as we continue deliberations on a new post-2019 global season structure to find an appropriate balance between club and international rugby,” said a Premiership Rugby spokesman.

“We are showing flexibility to help a number of unions who have decided to play on this particular weekend but we must stress this is a one-off variation to the allowed window while discussions continue.”

Bath number eight Taulupe Faletau would also be available to face Australia, but a knee injury means he is unlikely to play until the latter half of November.

All three players were included in Wales’ squad for the autumn Tests.

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Taulupe Faletau joined Bath from Newport Gwent Dragons ahead of the 2016-17 season

Wales coach Rob Howley previously said North, Roberts and Faletau had informed him they were available to face Australia.

The Welsh Rugby Union had not had “formal conversations with any of the English clubs” at that point, but Premiership Rugby’s change of stance appears to have resolved a long-running issue.

Northampton paid a fine of £60,000 in 2013 after their wing North played for Wales against Australia in a match which took place outside of the international window.

North had agreed a three-year contract whereby he would be available for all Wales games, but the 24-year-old has since signed a new deal.

Centre Roberts, meanwhile, is in the second year of his Harlequins contract.

Faletau’s inclusion, along with Roberts and North as the three wildcards under the Welsh Rugby Union’s senior player selection policy, meant that Bath fly-half Rhys Priestland missed out.

Only three players who have signed new contracts outside Wales can be included in any squad.

Japan-based lock Dominic Day and scrum-half Rhodri Williams are the others affected by the rule.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-union/37754595