North to leave Saints and return to Wales

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Wales wing George North will leave Northampton Saints at the end of the season and return to his homeland after signing a National Dual Contract for the 2018-19 campaign.

North joined Saints from Scarlets in 2013 but the 25-year-old has decided this will be his last season with the Premiership side.

The British and Irish Lions flyer revealed he turned down a "compelling offer" from Saints and it remains to be seen which Pro14 club he will join.

"This has been an incredibly hard decision," said North, who has scored 35 tries in 80 appearances for Northampton.

"Saints have developed me as a player and stuck by me through thick and thin, so it is with a heavy heart that I have decided to move on. 

"I love playing for Northampton Saints and am excited by the potential of the squad that is being assembled but, as a proud Welshman, I felt that now is the right time to move back home despite the compelling offer Saints made me.

"I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to be part of this great club for the last four years. I have loved every minute of my time here and I am excited to see what we can achieve this season. 

"I will be putting everything I have into helping the squad fulfil our potential this year in the highly competitive Aviva Premiership, and I will sorely miss Franklin's Gardens in the future.

"I would like to thank the squad, coaches, medical team, support staff and especially all of the supporters who have made my time at Northampton Saints so memorable."

North is sidelined with a knee injury and is eyeing a return for the Premiership clash with champions Exeter Chiefs on December 23.

Saints chief executive Mark Darbon said: "The club remains focused on recruiting and retaining top quality talent and we made an appropriate offer for George to stay.

"We have Dan Biggar joining us next season, and have plans to further strengthen our backline, and the squad more broadly, over the coming months."