sport

Wales row sidelines Warburton

Wales captain Sam Warburton will miss Cardiff Blues' friendly against Exeter on Friday as a result of the ongoing row engulfing Welsh rugby.

The Welsh regional sides are at odds with the union over the terms of a new agreement which provides the framework for a relationship between the two parties over player welfare and funding.

Warburton, who led the British and Irish Lions to a series victory against Australia last year, is the only player to sign a central contract with the Welsh Rugby Union.

Regional Rugby Wales (RRW), the umbrella organisation for the regional sides, has a rule of not selecting any centrally contracted players - at least until a full agreement has been reached.

And there is also an understanding that the Blues could run into issues over insurance for Warburton, a player who is technically not their employee even though he has been at the club for his whole professional career.

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

"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 enforced absence is all the more frustrating for a player who has finally recovered from the shoulder injury sustained during the Six Nations in March.

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

"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."