North cleared for landmark Test
INJURY UPDATE: George North has been given the “green light” to win his 100th Wales cap against England in next week’s Six Nations international in Cardiff.
North missed Wales’ 25-24 win away to Scotland last week with a foot injury as Wayne Pivac’s men made it two victories from two matches.
But the 28-year-old, who plays on the wing or at centre, has returned to training ahead of the clash with reigning champions England in Cardiff on February 27.
“George is making good progress, every day he is improving,” Wales attack coach Stephen Jones said on Thursday.
“He’s taken part in some sort of training already, which is great, and that’s the good thing from our perspective. I believe it is a full green light.”
North is one of several Wales players who are now available again to Pivac, with centres Johnny Williams and Jonathan Davies back in training, while flank Josh Navidi has recovered from the neck injury that forced him to miss the Scotland win.
Fullback Leigh Halfpenny, injured at Murrayfield, and wing Hallam Amos are both going through head injury assessment protocols.
Amos’ fellow wing Josh Adams is available after the top try-scorer at the 2019 World Cup served a two-match ban for breaching coronavirus restrictions.
But scrumhalf Tomos Williams has been ruled out with a hamstring problem.
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Wales will hope their England-based players come through club action unscathed.
While the Welsh Rugby Union have agreements in place with the four Welsh regional sides that can prevent their Test players appearing during Six Nations’ rest weeks, they have no similar deals with English Premiership teams.
Wales’ rising star Louis Rees-Zammit, who scored two tries against Scotland, and No 8 Taulupe Faletau are set to be in opposition when Gloucester travel to southwest rivals Bath on Friday.
Elsewhere, flyhalves Dan Biggar (Northampton) and Callum Sheedy (Bristol) could also be in Premiership action, along with Wasps lock Will Rowlands and Exeter prop Tomas Francis.
“It’s difficult when they go back to England because we lose access from a training perspective,” said Jones.
“But the positive about those players [Rees-Zammit and Faletau] is that game is on a Friday, as opposed to a Sunday.
“So those players will get over their bumps and bruises a bit quicker and have more time to recover.”
England have yet to hit top form in a Six Nations they started with a shock loss at home to Scotland before overpowering Italy 41-18 at Twickenham last weekend.
Owen Farrell, the England captain, has been criticised for failing to ignite the team’s attack whether playing at fly-half against Scotland or inside centre against Italy.
England coach Eddie Jones has accepted the Saracens star is “not at his best” but Stephen Jones said: “I don’t make much of it [Farrell criticism] if I’m honest.
“Whether he plays at 10 or 12 I suppose that’s the interesting options that they have.
“But we have enough to concentrate on from our aspect. We respect England and rightfully so, they are Six Nations champions and were successful in the year-end series.
“But we’re back in our stadium, we’re two from two and there’s huge excitement here.”