Alex Cuthbert: New Exeter wing was 'focused' on leaving Wales
Former Cardiff Blues wing Alex Cuthbert says the desire to leave Welsh regional rugby outweighed thoughts of continuing his Test career.
Cuthbert has joined Aviva Premiership side Exeter from the Blues, which means now he is ineligible to play for Wales.
Under Welsh Rugby Union rules players outside Wales must have 60 caps to be eligible for the Test side and Cuthbert has won only 47 caps for his country.
“My main focus was to get outside of Wales,” said the 28-year-old.
“I felt at the start of last season I needed a break and a new opportunity elsewhere to develop as a player and challenge myself.
“I wanted a new environment in terms of playing and training and look at things from a different set of eyes.
“Having the opportunity to come here (Exeter) was not one I could turn down.
“It was gutting to leave Cardiff. The fans were great with me, during darker times they were 100% behind me playing for the Blues.”
Cuthbert was well aware of the repercussions of opting to play his club rugby in England.
“It was in the back of my mind knowing leaving would mean I won’t play for Wales again,” said Cuthbert.
“That has hit home a bit, but for me I was more focused on getting things right at club level.
“You never know what will happen with the rules in the future.
“I rang all the Wales coaches and told them of my decision and thanked them.
“I said to Warren [Wales coach Gatland] it was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down and he agreed and wished me luck and said you never know what will happen in the future.
“I have that freedom now, I just have to do my all for Exeter.”
Cuthbert scored 16 tries for Wales, including the Grand Slam-winning score against France in 2012, and a double in the 30-3 win over England in the Six Nations title decider in 2013.
He also scored a try for the British and Irish Lions in the first Test victory over Australia in 2013.
“It all happened so quickly for me,” said Cuthbert.
“My first Cardiff Blues game was in 2011, a year later I was playing for Wales and a year later the Lions.
“I had done in three years what a lot of people do in a career so I’m proud of my achievements, scoring plenty of tries for Wales.
“I will take the memories with me and look towards the future.
“I hope to make more memories down here with Exeter.”
Alex Cuthbert was talking to the Friday Night Social on BBC Radio Wales