Wales’ North ‘not free to face Australia’ but talks continue

George North

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

The Welsh Rugby Union insists Northampton’s George North and Harlequins’ Jamie Roberts are available for Wales’ Test against Australia.

Northampton claim that is not the case while Harlequins have made no comment.

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

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.”

The organisation also claims that Bath number eight Taulupe Faletau can face Australia, but the player is injured and not expected to be fit in time for that match.

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

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But Saints team manager Paul Shields told BBC Radio Northampton: “As it stands, George will not be available for that game.

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

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

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

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

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.”


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

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

Moriarty 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.”

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