Wales boss Warren Gatland has received a huge boost after rising star Sam Warburton committed his long-term future to the Cardiff Blues.
The flanker was named man-of-the-match in Wales’ much-needed RBS 6 Nations win at Murrayfield at the weekend to add to his growing reputation.
Warburton has got the nod ahead of the vastly-experienced Martyn Williams for both club and country this term and looks set to be a regular international in the years to come.
And with Gatland desperate for his players to ply their trade at home, Warburton’s deal is a welcome relief after Lee Byrne and James Hook recently opted for moves to the Top 14 next season.
Warburton, who has won 11 caps, said: “I’m absolutely delighted to be staying here – I’m a Cardiff boy, born and bred, and to be offered and sign a new deal is fantastic.
“I’m only 22 years old and feel there’s a lot more to achieve. I’ve only been with the seniors for three seasons and with all the young players such as Bradley Davies, Leigh Halfpenny and Tom James, we’ve got a very bright future.
“I’ve come through with the same bunch of boys in the Academy and we’ve all progressed together so it’s been quite a smooth transition.
“What is exciting is I’ve known some of these boys for six years already through rugby circles and there’s about 10 or 12 of us who have come through within a few years of each other, which shows the systems are working.
“On the international front my call up came a lot sooner than I expected and the caps have notched up pretty quickly.”