DAN Lydiate will join the exodus of Welsh international rugby stars heading to the Continent.
The Newport Gwent Dragons and Wales star this week confirmed to his club that he had agreed to a contact with “an undisclosed European team” for next season.
Reports from France suggest that Top 14 side Racing Metro are leading the chase to sign the blindside flanker, from Abbeycwmhir.
Lydiate follows in the footsteps of international team-mates Lee Byrne, Mike Phillips and James Hook who already make their living in France, playing for Clermont Auvergne, Bayonne and Perpignan respectively.
Meanwhile Gethin Jenkins has signed for Toulon, Huw Bennett for Lyon, Jamie Robinson for Agen, Aled Brew for Biarritz, while Luke Charteris joined Hook at Perpignan.
The exodus over the channel follows the proposal of a £3.5m salary cap for the four Welsh regions next season, coupled with lower tax rates compared to the UK.
It is a blow for the Newport Gwent Dragons who produced Lydiate, who broke into the senior team in 2006.
In 2007 Lydiate suffered a potentially life threatening neck injury while representing the Dragons in Perpignan, but recovered to become an international star.
Last season saw the former Llandrindod High School student recognised as the RBS Six Nations player of the series, following a host of top drawer displays which helped Wales become champions.
Lydiate missed the Autumn Tests, which has proved a disaster for his Welsh team-mates, as defeats at the hands of Argentina, Samoa, New Zealand and Australia led to a drop in the international rankings and an unfavourable draw for the 2015 World Cup, where they will face England and Australia.
“We are obviously very disappointed that Danny has decided to leave the Dragons,” said Dragons director of rugby Rob Beale. “He has been a key part of our set up for several years and is popular with both the players and the coaches.”
“I can assure our supporters that we did all that we could to retain Dan’s services but we simply cannot compete with the offers which have been put on the table.”