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George North to leave Northampton at end of season

George North has been with Northampton Saints since 2013 Credit: PA

Wales wing George North will leave Northampton at the end of the season after agreeing a national dual contract with the Welsh Rugby Union, the WRU has announced.

The flying winger was instrumental in securing a 2017/18 European Rugby Champions Cup place for Northampton as his side beat both Connacht Rugby and Stade Francais to claim the final spot in the competition.

The juggernaut wing, who has won 69 Wales caps and scored 30 tries, has agreed a deal from next term, the Welsh Rugby Union announced on its official Twitter feed.

Northampton released their own statement confirming 25-year-old North's departure. It is not known at this stage which of the four Welsh regions he will join.

During North's four-year spell with the Saints, he played 104 times amassing 160 points in the process.

Wales' North ruled out of Autumn Internationals

George North has picked up a knee injury. Credit: PA

George North is set to miss Wales' entire autumn series after sustaining a knee injury in Northampton's Champions Cup defeat by Saracens on Sunday.

North has been ruled out for a minimum of six weeks, preventing him from featuring in the fixtures against Australia, Georgia, New Zealand and South Africa that begin at the Principality Stadium on November 11.

"George North suffered a sprain to his posterior cruciate ligament against Saracens which will require 6-8 weeks rehabilitation," a statement issued by Northampton said.

North was initially hurt during a tackle by Brad Barritt and after receiving treatment from Saints' medical team he attempted to run the injury off.

However, the giant wing collapsed shortly after as he looked to hit his stride in order to join a backs move in the club's record defeat at Franklin's Gardens.

Wales closing on eventual successor to Gatland

Gareth Davies says Wales aren't far away from finding Gatland's replacement. Credit: PA

Wales hope to announce Warren Gatland's successor as national head coach by next summer.

New Zealander Gatland, who has been in charge of Wales since late 2007, will leave his post after the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

It is understood that a list of eight possible contenders has already been whittled down to three candidates.

Speaking to reporters after the Welsh Rugby Union annual general meeting on Sunday, WRU chairman and former Wales fly-half Gareth Davies said: "We have got a target of announcing the new Wales head coach by the summer of 2018.

"We have been very busy boys over the last six months talking to various people, and we are making progress on that.

"We have caught up with various people when we've had the chance to do so."

Gatland's reign has harvested three Six Nations titles, two Grand Slams and an appearance in the 2011 World Cup semi-finals, when Wales were knocked out by France after skipper Sam Warburton was sent off.

Current Wales assistant coach Rob Howley, who has twice stepped up to the lead coach role for season-long stints when Gatland has been on British and Irish Lions duty, could be in the frame as a successor, while Wasps rugby director Dai Young also has his admirers.

"Warren hasn't been involved in the interview process so far," Davies added.

"But we will want to use him in the business moving forward in terms of who gets the job."

Gatland is set to announce his squad for the autumn Tests later this month, with Wales facing games against Australia, Georgia, New Zealand and South Africa between November 11 and December 2.


Wales suffer blow as Davies ruled out of Australia game

Davies, who has won 56 caps, was ruled out of the Wallabies clash due to a tight hamstring. Credit: PA

Wales suffered a late injury blow ahead of their autumn Test series opener against Australia at the Principality Stadium on Saturday.

British and Irish Lions Test centre Jonathan Davies, who has won 56 caps, was ruled out of the Wallabies clash due to a tight hamstring.

The Welsh Rugby Union confirmed Davies' absence, with his fellow Scarlets centre Scott Williams replacing him.

The 39 times-capped Williams last started for Wales against England at Twickenham in May.

There are no changes to the Welsh replacements' bench, with selected trio Gareth Davies, Sam Davies and Hallam Amos providing back division cover.

Wales have not beaten Australia since 2008, suffering 11 successive defeats since then.

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