Wales prop Tomas Francis will join Pro14 side Ospreys on a three-year deal from Premiership and European champions Exeter Chiefs at the end of the season.
Francis, who has won 52 caps, needed to return to Wales to continue his international career.
The Wales policy requires all players with fewer than 60 caps to play for a Welsh team, with Francis unable to reach the limit by the end of his present contract with Exeter in the summer.
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“I knew there would be a time when I would have to make a decision on my future,” said Francis, who joined the Devon club back in 2014 from Championship side London Scottish.
“It has not been easy – in fact, it has been the toughest decision I’ve had to make in my career – but I’ve had to do it to make sure I can carry on playing international rugby.”
Francis has amassed 115 appearances to date for the Chiefs and Francis is determined to end his stay at Sandy Park with more success
“What I have achieved with the Chiefs – and what I still hope to achieve this season – is something special,” Francis added.
“As a player in this group, I’ve been incredibly privileged to be part of a special journey.
“I want to give back to the club because they have been so good to me over the years. Both Rob [Baxter] and Rob [Hunter] gave me my opportunity and they have helped develop me into the player I am now.”
Francis has played in two World Cups, the last of which ended in the semi-finals when he sustained a serious shoulder injury, and will link up with a number of his international colleagues, including Ospreys captain Justin Tipuric.
“I spoke to the Welsh regions but I was impressed with the vision of head coach, Toby Booth, and where he wanted to take the Ospreys.
“His attention to detail and knowledge of my game and what he and Duncan Jones laid out to me was really appealing.
“The boys I know in the Wales squad all talked positively about what is happening at the Ospreys and it seems like a place that is heading in the right direction. The Ospreys just stood out to me as the region that is going places.”
Booth believes the signing of Booth represents proof of the ambition at the Ospreys.
“Signing a current international tighthead prop with a winning history and mentality will help the Ospreys make the steps we need to make and fuel the ambition now and for the long term future,” he said.
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