Warren Gatland says George North must put his health first

  • Warren Gatland has dubbed the controversial George North head injury incident as “confusing”
  • The Lions coach said that if Welshman is ever to play again he must be deemed 100 per-cent fit
  • Northampton winger North was allowed to resume playing after appearing to be knocked out in taking a heavy fall
Warren Gatland has insisted George North should not rush back onto the rugby field before he knows that he is one hundred per cent fit.

The British and Irish Lions coach was speaking in the wake of confirming Rob Howley (attack), Andy Farrell (defence) and Steve Borthwick (forwards) as his assistants to tour New Zealand next summer.

However, the media gathering in Dublin focused on the wellbeing of the currently “stood down” 24-year-old who has gathered all 65 Welsh caps, and three on the 2013 Lions tour, under Gatland.

North was cleared by doctors to continue playing for Northampton against the Tigers despite replays suggesting he had been knocked out following a tackle by Adam Thompstone.

“He’s been stood down at the moment and I think that’s for safety reasons just to make sure he is right,” said Gatland.

 



“It’s the best possible scenario just to make sure there isn’t any risk to his health. That’s the most important thing long-term, his health, making sure he is right.

“I wasn’t involved so it is difficult for me to comment on Northampton and the processes they went through,” added Gatland.

“They said they didn’t see the clip and he has passed a HIA test.

“From a coaching point of view you just assume that the processes are being followed, but absolutely I understand it is concerning as he has had a few knocks in the past and you just want to make sure they go through the right processes to make sure if he does play again that he is fully fit and he has recovered.

“If he does pick up knocks in the future it needs to be dealt with and he needs to potentially consider what is the best process for him to go through,” Gatland continued.



“He has stepped down in the past for a lengthy amount of time and if he needs to do that again there are people better qualified than me to make that decision.”

Despite Northampton releasing a statement post-match alluding to North “complaining of neck injury,” on Tuesday the club revealed that he has been “stood down” from all rugby until an “independent expert” said otherwise.

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