Sam Warburton can play 16 games for Blues under new deal

Cardiff Blues flanker Sam Warburton is the first player to hold a new dual contract
Cardiff Blues flanker Sam Warburton is the first player to hold a new dual contract
Guinness Pro12: Leinster v Cardiff Blues
Venue: RDS Arena Date: Friday, 26 September, 2014 Time: 19:35 BST
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Wales and online; live score updates on the BBC Sport website; highlights on Sunday's Scrum V

Flanker Sam Warburton is set to play for Cardiff Blues against Leinster on Friday after being rested for the Pro12 defeat at home to Ulster.

The Wales captain is the first Welsh player to be given a dual contract under the new Rugby Services Agreement.

Blues director of rugby Mark Hammett confirmed the decision not to play him was linked with the open-side's deal.

"From game time there's a figure of 16 games... we are not told when a player can or can't play," Hammett said.

"But we have agreed to negotiate and talk together with the player.

"So if we use Sam as an example, we talk with Sam, obviously the Blues and the Welsh Rugby Union to work out what is the best schedule for Sam - not just what's best for Wales or what's best for the Blues, but a combination.

"I've had those conversations around Sam with Gats [Wales coach Warren Gatland], with Sam himself.

"We've got to keep in mind because of the way rugby is there are injuries, there are illnesses, things like that so it's a living document, it's a best guess in a way."

Key points of the new deal
WRU increases regions' funding from £6.7m to £8.7m
Top home-based Test stars to be offered dual contracts
Wales coach Warren Gatland to decide who is offered dual deals, with those players to become WRU employees
Home-based players to be favoured in Wales selection
The £8.7m includes £2m set aside for dual contracts, with regions adding another £1.3m a year
Wales A games to return from January 2015

Warburton had been the only player to take up a Welsh Rugby Union central contract, but his new deal means the WRU pays 60% of the deal and the region the remainder.

The 25-year-old played in the opening Pro12 game at Zebre and then the following week against Glasgow.

Assuming the Blues will want the open-side to play all six pool games in this season's European Rugby Challenge Cup, that leaves just another eight games he can play for his region.

Should the Blues qualify for the knock-out stages in Europe that would again cut into the number of Pro12 games Warburton will be available to play.

Wales coach Gatland has still to reach a final decision on which other players will be offered dual contracts, with a figure of eight to 10 being mooted to begin with.

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