Six Nations 2015: George North not happy at Wales absence

Northampton Saints star left out of match against Scotland despite being symptom-free of concussions sustained against England

Warren Gatland has revealed that Wales wing George North was unhappy after being left out of their upcoming Six Nations match against Scotland on Sunday.

North’s absence is the only change made by head coach Gatland for the clash at BT Murrayfield despite the wing being symptom-free after concussions sustained in the defeat to England at the Millennium Stadium last Friday.

I said to him it is not a rugby decision, it is a welfare decision about him and his longevity in the game.

Warren Gatland

Gatland, his fellow coaches and the Wales medical staff have came under heavy criticism after North remained on the pitch despite being knocked out in a head collision with team-mate Richard Hibbard in the second half of the England game.

The 22-year-old had already been taken off for a head injury assessment in the first half, but was cleared to return after just eight minutes in the medical room.

Earlier this week, the sport’s global governing body, World Rugby, said that North should not have remained on the field, but cleared the Welsh Rugby Union of any wrongdoing after an investigation over their inaction, and there are already efforts being stepped up to improve pitch-side technology to aid medics in spotting head collisions.

And Gatland was keen to point out at his team selection press conference that the decision taken to not select North was one purely based on the player’s welfare.

“I spoke to him this morning – he is not a happy man, I can tell you that,” Gatland said.

“He is disappointed that we have ruled him out.

“I said to him it is not a rugby decision, it is a welfare decision about him and his longevity in the game.

“I said to him ‘you have taken a couple of knocks last Friday, and the last thing that you need, anyone needs or the game needs is that if you get another knock this Sunday, we don’t need that in the game at the moment’.”

With the Six Nations taking a week off after the clash in Edinburgh, North will be given extra time to rest up ahead of the France game in Paris on 28 February, a match he may be considered for.

From our point of view, one of the things we pride ourselves on is the welfare of the players and putting the players first.

Warren Gatland

Gatland also reiterated the point that North is symptom-free of concussion and is going through the graduated return to play protocols with the move to rest him, as was the case for the final Dove Men Series match in November, being a precautionary one.

Despite not being needed by Wales, the Wales head coach also confirmed that North would not be returning to his club with his progress monitored at their training base in south Wales.

“Potentially, he was available this week,” he added

“He was in the middle of the protocols in terms of the concussion stuff.

“We just felt that he had taken a couple of knocks last week, he took another knock against the All Blacks in the autumn and, from our point of view, one of the things we pride ourselves on is the welfare of the players and putting the players first.

“The decision was made as much about him being a young man and making sure he is being looked after from a welfare point of view, so the precautionary thing is to make a positive decision about George and his welfare in the future.”

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