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Wales' Warburton to miss Cardiff friendly as 'civil war' continues

AFP

Wales flanker Sam Warburton (C) passes the ball during the Six Nations international rugby union match between Wales and Scotland at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, on March 15, 2014Wales flanker Sam Warburton (C) passes the ball during the Six Nations international rugby union match between Wales and Scotland at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, on March 15, 2014

Wales flanker Sam Warburton (C) passes the ball during the Six Nations international rugby union match between Wales and Scotland at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, on March 15, 2014Wales flanker Sam Warburton (C) passes the ball during the Six Nations international rugby union match between Wales and Scotland at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, on March 15, 2014

Sam Warburton is to miss Cardiff Blues' opening pre-season friendly at home to Exeter on Friday as a result of the ongoing 'civil war' within Welsh rugby, his club confirmed Tuesday.

Warburton, who when fit has been Wales captain, signed a controversial central contract with the WRU which he believed would enable him to stay with his home region.

But the bitter dispute between the WRU and the four regions over funding and competition structures, means the British and Irish Lions back-row forward will be sidelined on Friday.

Cardiff's difficulty in trying to play Warburton is two-fold -- they can't get insurance for a player who isn't on their payroll and they have also signed an agreement with the other regions not to field anyone on a WRU central contract.

The Blues travel to Leicester on August 29 for their final friendly before their Celtic League campaign starts nine days later against Italian side Zebre.

"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 would have been looking to get all the pre-season games he could given he has been out of action for the past five months with a shoulder injury suffered playing against Scotland during the Six Nations back in March.

While one friendly won't make too much difference, the worry will be that if the dispute between the WRU and the regions drags on, he could find himself missing competitive matches.

There is little evidence of a 'peace deal' anytime soon but an optimistic John said: "Sam is training really well with us and this is probably one of the first pre-seasons he's had in a long while.

"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."

Date created : 2014-08-12