George North: Wales and Lions wing signs for Ospreys

George North tries to break a tackle for Wales

George North will join Ospreys when he leaves Northampton at the end of this season.

The wing has signed on a National Dual Contract (NDC) which means the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) will fund 60% of his pay.

The 26-year-old will return to Wales five years after leaving Scarlets for the Aviva Premiership club.

"I'm excited to be joining the Ospreys and starting a new chapter in my career when I return to Wales," North said.

Blues and Dragons had also shown interest in signing the player, who has won 73 Wales and three British and Irish Lions caps.

His former region Scarlets withdrew their interest in the Wales wing in December.

North agreed an NDC with the WRU in November and has since been working with the governing body to finalise his choice of region.

In the following months North was linked with Dragons and Scarlets, but Blues and Ospreys became his two final options.

Ospreys named interim head coach Allen Clarke as their permanent successor to Steve Tandy just 24-hours before the North announcement.

The former Ireland hooker joined the region as forwards coach last summer, and took charge in January following the departure of Tandy.

"I believe the Ospreys have an exciting future with the structure and the recruitment they have put in place and I'm really looking forward to linking up with Allen (Clarke) and the squad in the summer," North added.

"It was a really positive decision for me to sign a National Dual Contract with the support and structure it provides. I have worked alongside the WRU to finalise my choice of region and I would like to thank everyone involved.

"I'm really looking forward to becoming an Osprey."

WRU chief executive, Martyn Phillips, said: "George returning home to Wales is a major positive for Welsh Rugby and for the Ospreys. I know he is really looking forward to next season."

Dan Griffiths, Ospreys general manager, says the signing of North will boost the whole region.

"We are delighted to be able to add George to our squad for next season," he said. "A truly world class player, he is someone that everybody is excited about seeing in an Ospreys jersey, supporters, players and coaches alike.

"George has taken his time to ensure that his decision was the right one and it is fantastic news that he sees our environment as the best place to be going forward."

North's career path

After rising early from Scarlets' academy into their senior team, North made a sensational Wales debut as a teenager with two tries against South Africa in November, 2010.

He went on to play at the 2011 World Cup - where Wales reached the semi-finals - and played a starring role for the Lions as they beat Australia 2-1 in 2013.

There was controversy over North's move to Saints in 2014 with the WRU accusing the Scarlets of touting the player around Europe.

A series of high-profile concussions brought temporary halts to North's progress for club and country.

His form has also suffered at times, but he remains a potent attacking threat.

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