George North: Wales wing's withdrawal for Northampton v Sale 'precautionary'

George North runs into strong France defence during Wales' Six Nations match in Paris in 2017
North's last game for Wales was against France in March 2017

George North pulled out of his full Northampton Saints return a week before Wales begin their Six Nations campaign at home against Scotland.

The British and Irish Lions wing has not started a game since October because of a knee injury, but came off the bench in Saints' European Champions Cup hammering at Saracens last weekend.

He was due to start against Sale in the Anglo-Welsh Cup on Saturday.

Saints coach Alan Dickens indicated North's withdrawal was precautionary.

Dickens said North had "tight legs" before kick-off and was not a repeat of knee problems.

"George North pulled out just before kick-off," Dickens said. "He was just tight so it was a precautionary measure to hold him back."

Eight Wales players have already been ruled out for the game against Scotland on 3 February.

North suffered a knee injury in Saints' 57-13 defeat by Saracens in October 2017 and has only made two appearances as a replacement since.

The 25-year-old missed Wales' autumn internationals with injury.

North is in his final season with Saints before returning to play domestic rugby in Wales in the 2018-19 season, though it is not yet known which of the regions he will join.

With wing Hallam Amos having not played since Boxing Day and Saracens back Liam Williams a major doubt, North's match fitness remains a concern for Wales coach Warren Gatland.

Scrum-half Rhys Webb, centre Jonathan Davies and flankers Sam Warburton and Dan Lydiate - all Lions - are already ruled out for the whole of the tournament.

Second-row Jake Ball is also likely to miss every game, fly-half Dan Biggar is out for three matches and Bath duo Rhys Priestland and Taulupe Faletau both miss at least the opening two games.

The other Wales squad member in action this weekend was Josh Adams, who scored two tries from full-back as Worcester beat Exeter.

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