Welsh Rugby
Williams and Shanklin set for Blues exit
ESPNscrum Staff
January 19, 2011
Cardiff Blues flanker Martyn Williams, Cardiff Blues v Edinburgh, Heineken Cup, Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff, Wales, October 9, 2010
Veteran Martyn Williams had planned to retire at the end of next season © Getty Images

Wales duo Martyn Williams and Tom Shanklin are set to be the biggest casualties as part of a major cost-cutting exercise at Cardiff Blues.

Both players have reportedly been told they must leave the Magners League side when their contracts expire at the end of the season due to budget cutbacks totalling £750,000. The Western Mail reports that head coach David Young is trying to limit the damage to his squad by limiting the departures to those who are coming out of contract but suggests they may even listen to offers for prize assets Jamie Roberts and Leigh Halfpenny.

The 35-year-old Williams, capped 98 times by his country and a three-time tourist with the British & Irish Lions, had planned to retire at the end of next season but may be forced into a re-think by this latest news. Shanklin's playing future is also in doubt and in a further set-back the 31-year-old was yesterday ruled out of the Six Nations because he requires knee surgery.

Young has refused to comment on the futures of Williams and Shanklin but has confirmed the financial pressures he faces. "We decided to have one last crack at things with the players we have this season, but it hasn't happened for us and next season we have to be sensible," he told the newspaper. "And being sensible involves making cuts to get the cost of the squad down to a sustainable level.

"This season we've had the most expensive squad in history at the Blues and we knew that there would come a time when it would be a stretch financially to keep it together. The board have handed me a new two-year player budget which I have to stick to and it equates roughly to the salary cap in the Aviva Premiership (around £4m). We have to reduce costs and try to build the squad with younger players."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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