Gatland admits poaching Cuthbert and North
ESPN Staff
November 28, 2013
Alex Cuthbert and George North both won Test caps for the Lions in the summer © Getty Images

Warren Gatland has admitted he picked Alex Cuthbert and George North for Wales to prevent them from being called up by England.

Both Cuthbert and North were born in England with Cuthbert hailing from Gloucester and North from King's Lynn. Both were brought up in the Welsh regional system but could have been called up by England had they acted quick enough like Stuart Lancaster did with Ben Morgan.

And Gatland has revealed he fast-tracked the two wingers into the Welsh set-up to prevent the two British & Irish Lions ending up in English colours.

"I picked Cuthbert and George North, one because they big, powerful athletes and, two, because they were both English-qualified," Gatland told the Daily Mail. "I've got to take a risk sometimes on these guys who are dual-qualified. I can't afford to sit and wait for a year until Stuart [Lancaster] makes a move."

North is currently running out in the Aviva Premiership for Northampton Saints and as the battle continues to rage over the future of the Heineken Cup, there are no guarantees that he will be playing top level European domestic rugby next term.

England will face Wales in the 2015 World Cup Pool Stage and for Gatland, he feels that if England's sides are excluded from next season's Heineken Cup, then the other nations taking part will reap the benefits.

"I find all the politics fascinating, but it is an absolute mess and could have a massive impact on England's preparations for the World Cup," Gatland continued. "If their clubs are not involved in Europe, I would be very worried if I was in their position. I'm sitting here thinking, "If English sides don't play in Europe next season, that's great for us".

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