George North: Scarlets 'not in market' for Wales and Lions wing

Wing George North joined Northampton from Scarlets in 2013
Wing George North joined Northampton from Scarlets in 2013

Scarlets coach Wayne Pivac does not expect Wales wing George North to sign for them when he leaves Northampton at the end of the season.

The British and Irish Lion, 25, will return to Wales next season and Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Martyn Phillips has said all four regions have expressed an interest in North.

But Pivac said North's position is not one they are looking to strengthen.

"I'm not in the market for a winger," Pivac said.

"George has got a lot of great qualities, he's from the region and has played some great rugby for the British Lions and Wales.

"But at the moment I'm happy with the squad we've got.

"If the powers-that-be had the money and wanted to do it then we'd look at it, but at the moment I've got a squad and a budget. I'm working hard to finalise that."

North played for Scarlets from 2010-13 before heading to join English Premiership side Northampton, but will return to Wales on a national dual contract.

Under the Rugby Services Agreement between the four Welsh regions and WRU, the home region has first chance to sign North - who has won 69 Wales caps and three for the Lions.

But Pivac's stance suggests the winger's team for next season will now be either Ospreys, Dragons or Cardiff Blues.

North fits Ospreys' 'ambition'

Ospreys backs coach Gruff Rees, who will leave the region at the end of the season to be replaced by Matt Sherratt, says North would be welcome at the Liberty Stadium.

"Yes he is a huge talent and I think we have seen with Scott (Williams) and Aled (Davies) coming in that it is pleasing to see, even though I am leaving, that the Ospreys have ambition," Rees said.

"It is important the current squad know that there are people coming in who can evolve that even further.

"George fits that bill, a British Lion. He had a good stint in England and he is coming back over the bridge and will be an asset to any team."

Dragons "not holding breath"

Dragons head coach Bernard Jackman is sceptical of Pivac's disclaimer on North returning to his previous region.

"I don't think Wayne has sole responsibility for recruitment there. The Scarlets seem to have made it clear they are interested, so until I hear otherwise I'm not holding my breath", he told BBC Sport Wales.

"If he goes to Scarlets, that's fair enough because that is his region of origin, if he doesn't, I'd like to be in the hat with the Blues and Ospreys."

Jackman hopes that he could eventually benefit from the same WRU rule about a player's first region having first call, if Wales number eight Taulupe Faletau eventually returns to Wales at the end of his Bath contract in 2019.

"He's an incredibly popular player in our squad, our fans are mad about him and any coach in the world would be mad about him, but Bath are very lucky to have him under contract next year.

"But certainly the next time his contract's up, we would love to bring him back to Wales."

Faletau and North are over the 60-cap mark, which allows players to be selected by Wales from outside the country.

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