Warburton Side-lined as Welsh Row Continues

Sam Warburton is still deemed unavailable for Cardiff as Welsh rugby's civil war continues
Sam Warburton is still deemed unavailable for Cardiff as Welsh rugby's civil war continues

As the row continues between the Welsh regions Sam Warburton may be set to miss the start of the season, after the Blues have today confirmed that they are unable to pick him for Friday’s friendly against Exeter.

Warburton is stuck in limbo about his future as his domestic career continues to be hampered by the civil war blighting Welsh rugby.

The British and Irish Lions captain is the only player centrally contracted to the WRU and cannot be selected until a new participation agreement is reached between the warring parties.

After the match with Exeter the Blues head to Welford Road to take on the Tigers in their final friendly on August 29 before the newly named Guinness PRO 12 competition begins against Zebre nine days later.

"Until the services agreement has been sorted we unfortunately can't pick Sam and so he won't be involved against Exeter," Blues attack coach Paul John said.

"I've been told by the region that, at the moment, he is unable to play for us.

"Until everything is signed and sealed that will be the case. As soon as it is done we will crack on."

Warburton's inability to play will be particularly galling given that the Wales star is fit and available after recovering from the shoulder injury sustained during the Six Nations in March.

There is little evidence to suggest the WRU and regions will reach an agreement any time soon, so flanker Warburton is facing the real prospect of watching the start of the competitive season from the sidelines.

"Sam is training really well with us and this is probably one of the first pre-seasons he's had in a long while," John said.

"He's been a big part of training with us this summer so hopefully things can get sorted and he can start playing.

"Sam was rehabbing with us at the start of the summer and now is back in training.

"I know (Blues defence coach) Dale McIntosh has spoken to (Wales coach) Warren Gatland about him and there is a plan in place in terms of when he can play and things like that.

"From a rugby point of view, we hope to start integrating that plan as soon as possible."