George North stood down after latest concussion

George North: Head knocks. Picture: PA

George North: Head knocks. Picture: PA

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NORTHAMPTON will await expert opinion before deciding when George North will next play after confirming the Wales wing will miss Saturday’s European Champions Cup quarter-final at Clermont Auvergne after his latest head injury.

North has been knocked unconscious three times in recent months, including in last Friday’s 52-30 win over Wasps, and was yesterday being assessed by a neurologist.

“We won’t play him at the weekend,” Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder said.

“Clearly he had a nasty knock. He did get knocked unconscious for a very short period of time. Thankfully, he was well looked after, he came round very quickly and has had no real bad adverse after-effects. But even so, we won’t play him this weekend.

“He’s making good progress. He’s improving and down there at the moment going to see a neurologist and we’ll wait to see what the experts say.

“We’ve got to make sure the medical experts are happy and satisfied that he is fit to return to play and as soon as they say he is, then we’ll be happy to pick him again.”

North left the field unconscious after scoring the second of two tries in Saints’ win, with Wasps forward Nathan Hughes sent off for dangerous play as the Wales wing touched down.

Hughes protested his innocence but on Tuesday was banned for three weeks.

North also suffered blows to the head on Wales duty in the autumn and during the RBS Six Nations when twice he had head knocks in the opener against England, controversially continuing before being stood down for the Scotland clash.

Former World Rugby medical adviser Dr Barry O’Driscoll says North – the top tryscorer in the competition with seven this 
season – should not play again this term.

Mallinder is not unduly concerned but will await medical opinion. “There’s been lots of opinion over the last few days in particular,” he said.

“We’ve got to be careful that we don’t blow anything out of proportion. “It’s a tough game. George has said that himself. People who play the game understand that there are inherent dangers, I suppose, of playing.

“We’re always going to have incidents but player welfare will always come first.”

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