Wales Rugby
Roberts on verge of new deal at Cardiff
ESPN Staff
October 7, 2012
Wales' Jamie Roberts dives over to score, Wales v Italy, Six Nations, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales, March 10, 2012
Jamie Roberts appears set to sign a new contract to keep him in Wales with the Cardiff Blues © Getty Images

Jamie Roberts is on the verge of signing a joint contract with both the Cardiff Blues and the Welsh Rugby Union in an attempt to keep France's big-spending clubs at bay.

Racing Metro are rumoured to be prepared to offer the centre a £400,000 a year contract, figures that Cardiff cannot match. So in a bid to stop him moving across the English Channel his club and country have come together to ensure that he remains in the Principality.

"I like to think it will all be done in the next month," Blues chairman Peter Thomas told The Rugby Paper. "Regional rugby on its own cannot offer the huge amounts that some countries are paying. However, a combination of region and country together gives us every chance of finding a solution. I spoke to Jamie yesterday. I know he would be delighted if we could put a package together which will keep him at the Blues through to the next World Cup.

"Jamie is very relaxed about the future and appreciative of what people are doing on his behalf. Provided he is looked after commercially and financially to the level he deserves he will stay in Wales. I am very confident that the current discussions will result in the right solution being found."

The contract could mark a watershed for Welsh international players. Unlike their counterparts in Ireland who are centrally contracted to the Irish Rugby Union, Wales' players are only contracted to their clubs. It means that the clubs have grown reluctant to renew contracts with leading players as they know that they will lose them regularly to international duty throughout the year.

The system has also meant that internationals such as Gethin Jenkins, Luke Charteris and Mike Phillips have headed to the Top 14 to receive salaries that dwarf what was on offer in Wales. However, that has meant that they are not allowed to spend as much time in camp with Wales. As such the hope is that Roberts' joint contract could be followed with a similar deal for a host of Wales' best youngsters including Alex Cuthbert, George North and Rhys Priestland.

"The regions are all working with the WRU to make that happen so that the best players remain in an environment where they are looked after, kept in prime condition and not flogged to death," Thomas said. "When a player goes out of Wales he doesn't get 13 days off before an international. The Welsh internationals in France get six. That's no good for the Welsh team. Preparation is everything. We have an amazing set of youngsters in Wales. We have to ensure their future is here."

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