North hands Wales a boost

George North has handed Wales a giant fitness boost ahead of the RBS 6 Nations. [more]

North hands Wales a boost

George North has handed Wales a giant fitness boost ahead of the RBS 6 Nations.

The red-hot wing suffered a neck injury in the Scarlets' heavy defeat at the hands of Ulster on Friday night.

North was stretchered off in a neck brace during the second-half at Ravenhill and although cleared of serious injury, doubts over his fitness ahead of the Championship opener against Ireland on February 2, remained.

But those fears have been dismissed with the 26-cap international, a real contender for the Lions, set to return to action within two weeks and potentially as soon as Saturday – in the Scarlets Heineken Cup clash with Leinster.

"It would be a pretty remarkable turnaround if he's available for Leinster," said Scarlets head coach Simon Easterby, a Lions tourist to New Zealand in 2005.

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"It's not nice to see anyone go off like that but fortunately George isn't as bad as first feared.

"We will see how he goes this week. He is one of a few players that are on the sick list but might come through for the game.

"But we have to be mindful that he's had a bit of a whack there. If there is any danger we won't play him. We have to know he is 100 per cent. It's important we look after him."

The Scarlets' head of medicine Andy Walker was one of the first people to treat North following the collision.

Walker admits the damage from the clash could have been much more severe but he is confident North will be firing on all cylinders in time for the Championship.

"His neck was down in the flex position and he had a knee right in the middle of the back of the neck," added Walker.

"He had a double whiplash right on the neck where it was tender. That could have caused significant injury.

"The symptoms on the pitch were as if he had a serious spinal injury so we had take the precautionary route.

"Fortunately the CT scan and X-ray in Ulster were clear and we're just dealing with some soft tissue trauma. Severe bruising.

"It's definitely positive for the Six Nations. All being well he is not far off."

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