Sunday 16 December 2018

Gatland ready to take a gamble on North

George North in action for the Northampton Saints. Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images for Harlequins
George North in action for the Northampton Saints. Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images for Harlequins

James Corrigan

Warren Gatland is hoping that George North gets a run-out with Northampton on Saturday after including the winger in Wales squad for their Six Nations opener against Scotland on February 3.

North aggravated a knee injury when making his comeback against Harlequins at the end of last month and it was feared that he would miss the match in Cardiff.

However, the winger resumed full training this week and is in line to play against Saracens in the Champions Cup.

For Gatland, that would be such a timely fillip, with several Lions absent, including Sam Warburton, Taulupe Faletau and Jonathan Davies.

Scarlet flanker James Davies and the Worcester winger Josh Adams are the newcomers in Gatland's 39-man squad.

Adams, 22, is currently the top try-scorer in this season's Aviva Premiership with nine touchdowns., while Davies, brother of Wales and Lions centre Jonathan, was part of Great Britain's rugby sevens medal-winning squad at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Cardiff Blues prop Dillon Lewis, who made his Test debut during last year's summer tour, keeps his place, while experienced forwards Scott Baldwin and Bradley Davies are both recalled.

There are no places, though, for Harlequins centre Jamie Roberts or Bath lock Luke Charteris.

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has included uncapped props Murray McCallum and D'arcy Rae in his 40-man squad along with Newcastle pair Scott Lawson and Jon Welsh, who are back after several years out of the reckoning. Hooker Lawson, 36, won the last of his 46 caps in 2014.

Fraser Brown misses out after a series of concussions, while Edinburgh prop Simon Berghan is suspended after being given a six-week ban for stamping on the Glasgow hooker's head.

Zander Fagerson, WP Nel, Ross Ford, Allan Dell, Al Dickinson and Darryl Marfo are also missing from Townsend's front-row options.

Stuart McInally is likely to keep his place at hooker with George Turner as cover and London Irish prop Gordon Reid provides some experience with 27 caps.

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