George North fitness boost for Scarlets - and Wales
Scarlets wing George North could still feature in this season's Pool stages of the Heineken Cup - and he has not been ruled out of making a remarkably quick return to action against defending champions Leinster at the RDS on Saturday evening.
The Wales star was stretchered off in the second half of the Scarlets' PRO12 match against Ulster Rugby at Ravenhill last Friday with what looked like a serious neck injury.
But he has handed Wales a huge boost with the news that he should be fit for the start of the 2013 RBS Six Nations championship next month and could even feature against Leinster or at Parc y Scarlets against ASM Clermont Auvergne in the last rounds of Pool 5 European group matches.
"It would be a pretty remarkable turnaround if he's available for Leinster," said Scarlets head coach Simon Easterby.
"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."
And the Scarlets' head of medicine Andy Walker said North had a lucky escape, adding: "Fortunately the CT scan and X-ray in Ulster were clear and we're just dealing with some soft tissue trauma, severe bruising.
"We'll just see how he goes this week and make a call later in the week and update the coaches.
"Whether he turns around for this Saturday is a possibility - we have not ruled him out yet.
"We will see how he goes in the next few days but it's certainly positive for the Six Nations. All being well he is not far off."
As part of the build-up to next month's Cardiff 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals weekend, ERC has joined forces with the WRU, Cardiff Blues and adidas to develop an annual grassroots community rugby programme targeting young players.
The Ulster Rugby full back, Jared Payne (No 15), has been suspended for two (2) weeks following an independent Disciplinary Hearing in Dublin arising from the Heineken Cup quarter-final match against Saracens at Ravenhill Stadium on Saturday, 5 April.