Roberts to leave Cardiff Blues
Wales centre Jamie Roberts is to leave the Cardiff Blues at the end of the season and could be on his way to Paris to play for Racing Metro.
Cardiff chief executive Richard Holland said that the club had hoped to persuade the 25-year-old Roberts to stay by offering him a deal that would have made him one of the best-paid players in Britain.
But he admitted this was below what could be offered from other big-spending clubs, notably in France, where Roberts is now set to join fellow Wales internationals Gethin Jenkins, Mike Phillips, James Hook and Luke Charteris.
"The offer that we made to Jamie was an extremely attractive one and would have seen him become certainly the highest paid player in the Blues squad, and arguably in the UK," Holland said.
"As a business we simply don't have the resources to compete with the offers that Jamie has received.
"Naturally we are disappointed that Jamie has decided to leave the region but we wish him the best of luck with his career."
Roberts, who is a product of the Blues Academy, made his debut for the region as a winger against the Ospreys in August 2007 and to date he has made 81 appearances and scored 17 tries.
He first played for Wales, also on the wing, against Scotland at the start of the 2008 Grand Slam season and has since won 44 caps for his country.
The Newport-born back, who is a medical student at Cardiff University and will sit his final exams during next year's Six Nations tournament, was named as the British and Irish Lions' Player of the Series on their 2009 tour of South Africa.
Roberts returned to action in September after being sidelined for six months with a knee injury.
Earlier this week Roberts, who will resume his Wales career against Argentina at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on Saturday, said he faced an agonising decision about where to play his club rugby.
"It is a very tough choice I have got to make, and one I haven't made yet. It's a tough one," Roberts said.
"There are loads of factors to take into consideration.
"You just deal with it. It's one of those things in rugby – the last year of your contract. Everyone goes through it, but you just get on with it.
"It is a tough decision I have to make, but one that whatever decision I make it will be the right one because it is what I want to do."
This week also saw Wales coach Rob Howley warn players they were jeopardising their test careers by going overseas after he dropped scrum-half Phillips, now with Bayonne, from the starting XV playing the Pumas.
Roberts missed last week's Wales training camp in Poland because of club commitments and Howley, himself a former Wales and Lions scrum-half said.
"It is important for us that we have had good preparation," said Howley.
"The dynamics of the team are important when you spend time together. It's about those marginal gains that you get. When you go to France and England (to play), you take yourself out of that environment."