Sam Warburton: Cardiff Blues hope Wales captain can return

Sam Warburton
Cardiff Blues' Pro12 season starts on 7 September

Cardiff Blues coach Dale McIntosh hopes Sam Warburton will be able to be involved against Leicester on Friday 29 August.

Warburton could not play in Friday's 17-24 defeat against Exeter as the regions have yet to agree a new participation agreement with the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU).

The Wales captain, 25, is the only player on a WRU central contract.

McIntosh said: "We just want to see him out there enjoying his rugby again."

"We are looking to hopefully involve him and give him some game time against Leicester in two weeks' time and lead him into (the game against) Zebre."

Warburton opted for a central contract in January 2014 when he was unable to agree a new deal with the Blues.

What is a central contract?
"A player's contract is held by the Union and not by his club, province or region. The Union, who pays his wages, can then determine where, when and even what position he plays. New Zealand, Ireland, Australia, South Africa and Scotland all have their own variations of a central contract."

The four Welsh regions - Blues, Dragons, Ospreys and Scarlets - represented by Regional Rugby Wales (RRW) are partly funded through the deal with the WRU.

In return, they release players for Wales' national squad training when required, for matches in the International Board Test window and also for international games that fall outside the period set aside for Tests in the IRB calendar.

Central contracts were not covered by the previous agreement and, in July, RRW warned that they had a legally-binding agreement not to pick any centrally-contracted players.

Another leading Welsh international, Adam Jones, is now training with former club Neath ahead of the new season as his professional future remains in limbo.

Jones' contract with the Ospreys ended in May and he has not been able to agree a new deal because of the impasse.