Scarlets boss Easterby warns George North move to Northampton would be 'a disaster'
SCARLETS head coach Simon Easterby says the region are desperate to hold on to Northampton target George North, warning that losing the Wales wing would be "a disaster for Welsh rugby".
North has more than a year left on his current contract at Parc y Scarlets, but the 20-year-old's agent Christian Abt has confirmed there have been discussions about a move to English Premiership outfit Northampton.
It is understood the Scarlets offered North a new deal earlier this year, but the Llanelli region would struggle to compete with the financial might of English and French clubs.
A growing exodus of players leaving Wales is already underway with the likes of Jamie Roberts and Dan Lydiate departing in the summer, while Mike Phillips and James Hook are among those already plying their trade abroad.
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And if North was to join the ever-increasing player drain, Easterby believes it would have grave consequences for Welsh rugby.
"It goes without saying it would be a disaster for us and the rest of the Welsh regions, for Welsh rugby in general," he said.
"We want all the best players we can have. George North is an exceptional talent. He's come through our region, we've supported him and we've developed his skills.
"He's not played for another side, and we're desperate to keep hold of him."
There had been a suggestion that the Scarlets were keen to offload North this summer in order to secure a compensatory fee before he would be available for free next year – but Easterby dismissed such speculation.
"Why would I want as a rugby coach want to get rid of quality players? My stance has not changed and I don't want to lose players of George's quality," he added.
"We have to come under the constraints of budgets and we are along with the other regions probably the lowest financed teams in Europe.
"That puts us under a bit of pressure. But when you have players like George North you want to keep them."