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Will Blues accept Warbuton-WRU deal?

26th January 2014 13:04

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Sam Warburton

Sam Warburton: Will be play regional rugby?

Wales skipper Sam Warburton's agent has admitted that there are no "cast iron guarantees" he will play for Cardiff Blues next season.

The 25-year-old British and Irish Lions flanker inked a groundbreaking three-year deal with the Welsh Rugby Union on Saturday, becoming the first Welsh player in history to sign a central contract.

WRU intends that Warburton will continue playing for Cardiff Blues under the new deal at no cost to the region, but it is still unclear what the region's response to this will be, given the current regional policy of not selecting any player who is centrally contracted.

Warburton's agent, Derwyn Jones, says the player could have doubled his money by accepting a deal with French club but wanted to stay in Wales.

"Cardiff Blues and the WRU could not table a joint offer for Sam because of the current political fallout between the Welsh Regions and the WRU," Jones told walesonline.

"Cardiff Blues alone could not give Sam a market value contract offer due to the uncertain future of the game in Wales, they also could not offer this to Leigh Halfpenny who has since signed for Toulon.

"Sam was faced with the following two options regarding his playing future: 1. Pursue interest from two teams in the French Top 14 at twice his UK market value; 2. Sign a three-year employment contract with the WRU to stay in Wales at his UK market value.

"Sam has decided to accept the very generous and fair offer from the WRU because he is currently Wales captain. Like all of his fellow Welsh internationals he is honoured every time he pulls on the red jersey of Wales and he loves his country.

"He also loves Cardiff, he lives in Cardiff and he hopes to continue to play for Cardiff Blues - the WRU and Sam have prioritised this during the negotiation process.

"At this time however, due to the current fallout between the regions and the WRU, there are no cast iron guarantees that Sam will be able play for Cardiff next season.

"Sam wants to stay in Wales and intends to play for Cardiff Blues next season should all the issues be resolved, but if he had moved to France there would have been absolutely no chance of him playing for the team he has supported since he was a young boy."

Meanwhile, Cardiff Blues Peter Thomas has come out in a scathing attack on the WRU, blaming the national union for the current crisis over where the Welsh regions will compete next season.

The regions have given the WRU board until Friday to support the breakaway Champions' Cup, unlikely scenario considering the union has pledged it's support for the ERC-organised Heineken Cup.

"The regions have offers on the table to play in the Champions' Cup or a British and Irish Cup," Thomas told the Rugby Paper.

"For God's sake, the Irish, Scottish and Welsh Unions have to wake up and make a decision. If they don't do that by January 31, we have to move on. Why? Because we have no alternative but to move on for the sake of the players, the supporters, the investors and Welsh rugby as a whole.

"The product we have in the Pro12 is not selling. To be blunt, we don't have a product. We are in the wrong competition. The WRU are not making any decisions. With them it's all about control. They don't look at the bigger picture. They couldn't run a corner shop."

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