THE Dragons have been dealt a crushing blow after Hallam Amos signed for fierce rivals Cardiff Blues in a bid to improve his Wales chances.

The 24-year-old wing/full-back from Monmouthshire will move to the Arms Park in the summer after eight seasons in the senior squad at Rodney Parade.

The writing was on the wall when Amos expressed his frustration at a lack of improvement after the Dragons’ defeat to Connacht in Galway last autumn.

"I have been here eight years with the senior squad and was with the academy. It's about time that we started seeing some progress," he said.

Nonetheless, there was still hope that Amos, a medical student at Cardiff University, would agree fresh terms.

South Wales Argus: STAR MAN: Hallam Amos is leaving the DragonsSTAR MAN: Hallam Amos is leaving the Dragons

In January he admitted that he faced a tough decision - "Staying at the Dragons is definitely an option – I am a Gwent boy and in two more years it will be a decade here, which would be incredible” – but now he has taken the plunge and moved to the Blues.

“My decision to leave is no reflection of what is being built at the Dragons, as the direction the region is going is positive,” said Amos.

“I’ve three years left of my medical studies while still playing rugby at the highest level I can, so the opportunity at Cardiff Blues is the best thing for my career, to experience a new challenge and stake a claim for regular Wales starting spot.”

South Wales Argus: TEST ACE: Hallam Amos has won 19 caps with WalesTEST ACE: Hallam Amos has won 19 caps with Wales

“I’ve been involved in the Dragons set-up for a decade and I am so thankful to them for giving me my first opportunity as a professional,” he continued.

“They have been brilliant in allowing me to combine rugby and my medical studies and I will leave Rodney Parade with lifelong friends.

“But I am getting to the stage of my career, especially with my degree nearing its end, where I will benefit from a fresh environment and what John Mulvihill and Cardiff Blues are doing is fantastic.”

Amos made his Dragons debut against Wasps in the Anglo-Welsh Cup when he was still at Monmouth School, holding the record as the youngest player to feature in regional rugby at 17 years and 28 days until 16-year-old Jack Dixon came off the bench in Wycombe.

He is set to make his 112th appearance against the Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday, while his exploits earned a Test debut against Tonga in 2013 and selection for the World Cup in 2015.

Amos came off the bench in the Six Nations win in Italy for his 19th cap and is battling to join Liam Williams, George North, fellow Blues recruit Josh Adams and Leigh Halfpenny in Warren Gatland’s squad for Japan 2019.

Prop Rhys Thomas was the last Wales international to leave the Dragons for a regional rival when he moved to the Scarlets in 2009.

Before that Ian Gough switched to the Ospreys and Ceri Sweeney headed to Cardiff Blues in 2007.

The loss of Amos is a blow and the Dragons will hope that fellow speedster Ashton Hewitt, who has missed all of this season with a shoulder injury suffered in Wales training, doesn’t follow him out of the door.

South Wales Argus: RECRUITMENT DRIVE: Caretaker boss Ceri Jones is in charge of contract negotiationsRECRUITMENT DRIVE: Caretaker boss Ceri Jones is in charge of contract negotiations

Ceri Jones is working on retention and recruitment with a number of deals soon to be announced, with the interim head coach eyeing value in World Cup year.

Jones said: “Hallam has been a fantastic servant for the Dragons with eight seasons in the first team after progressing up from our academy.

“A man of the region, he’s been a stand-out talent, so we respect his decision and we wish him well for his next chapter in his career once his time with us comes to an end.

“We all hope Hallam gets his chance to shine for Wales in Japan and that Warren Gatland’s team can challenge for the Rugby World Cup title, but next year teams will have to maximise their resources to remain competitive whilst players are away with Wales.”