Welsh Rugby
Blues' talks with Lions duo 'progressing well'
ESPN Staff
August 21, 2013
Sam Warburton helped propel the Lions to their series triumph in the summer © PA Photos

Cardiff Blues chairman Peter Thomas says talks to keep Sam Warburton and Leigh Halfpenny in Wales are "proceeding well".

The pair toured with the British & Irish Lions in the summer with Warburton skippering the side to a series victory and Halfpenny named the Player of the Series after a host of match-winning performances. The duo's contracts are up at the end of the season and the Blues are keen to retain their services.

The Welsh regions have been facing a battle to keep hold of their prize assets with Jamie Roberts and Dan Lydiate both having left the country for France in the close season. They will join the likes of Mike Phillips, Luke Charteris, Lee Byrne and James Hook in turning out in the Top 14.

But Wales received a boost recently with Toby Faletau opting to extend his stay with the Dragons. The Scarlets, who lost George North to the Saints, are in discussions with fellow Lion Jonathan Davies over a new deal while the Ospreys are keen to retain Alun-Wyn Jones and Adam Jones' services.

For the Blues, with Alex Cuthbert already signed up for a couple more years, their priorities lie with Halfpenny and Warburton and Thomas is optimistic the pair will re-commit to the Arms Park side.

"It is all proceeding well," Thomas told the BBC. "I think it has been said if you look at New Zealand, there are two iconic players - Richie McCaw and Dan Carter. We are very fortunate in Wales that we have two iconic players in Sam Warburton, captain of the Lions and of Wales, and Leigh Halfpenny, player of the Lions tour, who both happen to be Blues players.

"I know our governing body, the Welsh Rugby Union, working in conjunction with us at Cardiff Blues, will do everything to retain them in Wales."

The WRU announced in June that it was making additional funds available to the regions in a bid to keep their internationals in Wales, a decision Thomas welcomed. He added: "It is a huge start and I applauded what the WRU has done in putting this million pounds forward.

"It will go a long, long way to securing our best players in Wales. What we as the PRGB [Professional Regional Game Board] and the governing body have to decide on is how wisely it is spent."

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