sport

WRU want Warburton to stay Blue

Sam Warburton's pioneering central contract is designed solely to keep the Wales captain at Cardiff Blues, according to the Welsh Rugby Union.

The WRU have moved to clarify their plans after securing Wales and Blues flanker Warburton on their first-ever central contract.

Welsh union bosses released a statement which confirms their hope Warburton will remain with Cardiff next season, effectively scotching rumours the WRU would seek to loan top stars to Aviva Premiership clubs.

Regional Rugby Wales (RRW), the governing body of the Scarlets, Blues, Ospreys and Dragons, this week revealed there is no agreement in place with the WRU regarding central contract plans.

The bosses of the regions demanded further explanation, fearing the destination next term of any players completing central WRU deals.

The WRU have now revealed they want as many top Wales stars to sign deals with the regions as possible, and claim to have "encouraged" the Scarlets to "conclude negotiations" with Rhys Priestland and Scott Williams, and the Ospreys to follow suit with Adam Jones.

The WRU said it will step in where any region "cannot agree terms" with a top international star.

The WRU statement reads: "A nationally contracted player will be offered back to their Region of origin free of charge which means the money they would have been paying that individual could then be spent on other players to bolster their squad.

"The clear intention is to ensure the four Regions have the opportunity of gathering the strongest squads possible to compete on domestic and European stages.

"To support this strategy the WRU has encouraged the Scarlets and the Ospreys to conclude negotiations with Scott Williams and Rhys Priestland and Adam Jones respectively.

"The WRU remains willing to step in with National Contract offers for those individuals who were nominated by the Regions, late in 2013 as players they regarded as key members of their squads, whose services should be retained in Wales.

"If the necessary negotiations are completed and the National Contract formula is secured in a new Rugby Services Agreement, the WRU will be prepared for some key contracts held by the Regions to revert to the governing body if the Regions wish and the players agree."