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By George!There's more questions than answers aboutWales.

Byline: IN MY VIEW SIMON THOMAS

SO, here's the big question, will George North be captured by Gatland's Law now he has decided to stay with Northampton? Well, I'd love to give you the answer, but nobody seems to know for sure at the moment.

I've written more words about the WRU Senior Players Selection Policy - to give the law its actual name - than just about anybody over the past year. I've even read the damn thing!

And yet I'm still struggling to provide a definite answer to the query on North, despite having picked the brains of various contacts since the Saints announced he was remaining at Franklin's Gardens.

So what do we know about Gatland's Law and how it may affect the Lions winger? Well, we know if a player signs or re-signs with a club outside of Wales, while turning down a WRU dual contract or a regional deal at a market value agreed by the Union then he definitely gets captured by the law.

So far, only one player unquestionably falls into that category, centre Jamie Roberts, who opted to link up with Harlequins rather than rejoin Cardiff Blues.

In order to select Roberts, Gatland will have to make use of one of his wild cards. This season he has two and next season he will have three at his disposal.

Now, to the best of my knowledge, North did not receive a firm offer from within Wales, be it a dual deal or a regional one.

But I understand at least one region recently expressed an interest in him with his representatives.

Yet it's now been confirmed he has decided to re-commit to Northampton.

The question is will that put him at risk of being captured by Gatland's Law? Well, the truth is we probably won't know until after the next meeting of the Professional Regional Game Board (PRGB), the body made up of representatives of both the Union and the region.

It's down to them to consider indiviual cases in the light of the wording of the selection policy.

And the fact is the policy has never been tested in this fashion before.

Will the absence of a firm bid for North mean he is unaffected or might the PRGB take a differing view of the situation? It remains to be seen, but it does go to reaffirm just how confusing Gatland's Law is and how it can be interpreted in so many different ways, given its complexity.

Many people take the view that it's not worth the paper it is written on, because there are so many loopholes and caveats, with sceptics questioning whether it will ever be effectively implemented.

Moving forward, it really needs to be simplified and clarified and made fit for purpose. Whether we should go down the RFU route of you have to play in Wales to play for Wales is a whole debate in itself and one that really divides opinion.

But we certainly need greater clarity because at present things are as clear as mud.

The whole North saga has been somewhat perplexing if truth be told.

Last month, the Scarlets initially said they would welcome him back to the region, amid speculation that he could be a target for a WRU dual contract.

But then last week, coach Wayne Pivac said they were not chasing the 23-year-old winger.

Around about the same time, Cardiff Blues coach Danny Wilson was to be found saying: "I don't know any club who wouldn't be interested in George North, especially a Welsh region."

However, Wilson added that the market value of some players makes it very difficult to be in the chase.

So it all may come down to semantics, trawling over the fine detail of the Selection Policy and determining how significant the difference is between a firm market value offer and an expression of interest.

What we do know is that North is staying with the Saints, where he has been since 2013. But the other thing we don't know is whether he will continue to have full international release.

He did in his initial three-year deal, which resulted in Northampton being fined PS60,000 for breach of PRL policy. It remains to be seen what the wording of his new contract is and whether he will be free for all Wales duties, included the extended training camps and out-of-window internationals.

So it's a case of watch this space. It will also be interesting to see what happens in the case of Luke Charteris.

On Saturday evening, he con-firmed he would be joining Bath from Racing 92 at the end of this season.

He also insisted that he wouldn't be captured by Gatland's Law as there was no offer on the table from within Wales at the time when he signed for the English club.

He did acknowledge that he received a bid from Cardiff Blues, but stressed that he had already agreed terms with Bath by then.

My understanding is the Blues tabled an offer of around PS300,000 for the 62-cap second row.

With his 33rd birthday coming up in March, he was unlikely to receive a WRU dual contract deal of that scale, so the Arms Park outfit went it alone.

It's Charteris' contention that the bid came too late in the day and that he will not have to be a wild card to play for Wales.

Again it will be intriguing to see how the PRGB view his case and whether they confirm his assessment of his situation.

Meanwhile, we continue to wade through the murky waters of Gatland's Law.

CAPTION(S):

<BGeorge North will continue to run out in Northampton Saints' colours, but where that leaves him for Wales is still a grey area

Luke Charteris will return from France to join Bath next season
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Title Annotation:Sport; Opinion Columns
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Nov 27, 2015
Words:973
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