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By Shane Williams
AS WE approach Christmas, George North has a big decision to make. His move to leave Northampton Saints and return to Wales on a National Dual Contract is fantastic news for the regional game and also for Warren Gatland.
The question now is, which team is he going to join?
I’m sure all four regions will be talking to George and expressing an interest in him. They’d be mad not to. But of all the options open to him, I think the Ospreys would be the best fit for George.
There’ll be some people reading this and thinking I’m only saying that because they’re my old club, but before you all jump on me, let me explain my thinking.
First, I can’t see George going back to the Scarlets having left there in the past.
In Llanelli, Wayne Pivac already has a number of back three options in Leigh Halfpenny, Steff Evans, Johnny McNicholl and others available to him. I think their recruitment budget could be better spent elsewhere, mainly in the pack and specifically the tight five.
Then there are the Dragons and Cardiff Blues.
I’m sure Dragons will be of interest to George given their big spending and having already attracted Ross Moriarty to Rodney Parade.
Bernard Jackman has made it clear he’s in the market for George and it’s clear the Dragons are going places at the moment.
The fact George’s girlfriend Becky James is from Abergavenny will also make them an attractive proposition.
As for the Blues, they, too, will be interested in George and his potential arrival would certainly put bums on seats at Cardiff Arms Park.
But with all that said, I think the Ospreys are crying out for a player like George.
It’s all doom and gloom at the Liberty Stadium right now. It’s been a woeful season so far and the region is in need of a real boost. The way things are going it will take something of a miracle for the Ospreys to make next season’s Champions Cup and with Rhys Webb and Dan Biggar moving on, goodness knows the team and their supporters need something of a boost right now.
The potential arrival of George wouldn’t totally solve all those problems, of course. But at a time when things aren’t great, his signing would certainly get people smiling down in SA1.
I also think the Ospreys signing Scott Williams could help them to attract George. Scott and George are close friends both on and off the pitch. If I were the Ospreys, I’d be telling Scott to get in his ear to try and convince him. Maybe a glass of mulled wine might help.
George would be a great fit on the pitch. If you look at the squad currently available to Steve Tandy, I think it could do with reinforcing in the back three area.
Dan Evans is a reliable performer at either full-back or wing, but elsewhere signings would be a help.
Hanno Dirksen and Jeff Hassler are both injury prone and while I rate Keelan Giles very highly, he’s facing a long spell on the sidelines and is still just a teenager.
Elsewhere, Dafydd Howells hasn’t really kicked on and I think George coming in on the wing would really help. I also think he’d fit well into the Ospreys’ style of play. It’s likely Aled Davies and Sam Davies will be the half-back pairing for next season with Scott in the centre. That’s a decent, vibrant trio and with George rampaging off his wing, I think he would be incredibly dangerous working alongside those players.
As a player it’s always nice to have options and at the end of the day there will be plenty to weigh up.
Where will he play his best rugby? Where is his best chance of winning silverware? And who is the coach who is going to suit his style of play?
Ultimately these are all tough questions to answer, but I think the Ospreys tick more boxes than most.
George’s potential arrival at the Liberty could end up revitalising both parties and for the future of Welsh rugby, that can only be a good thing.
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