WALES centre Nick Tompkins says he turned down the other regions in favour of the "up and coming, exciting" Dragons.

The 25-year-old will start training with the Rodney Parade side this week ahead of the Guinness PRO14 derbies at the end of August.

Tompkins has signed a long-term deal with Saracens but will spend the next year on loan as a Dragon while the European champions play in the English Championship after their relegation for salary cap breaches.

The centre, who starred in the Six Nations, is moving to Wales to ensure he remains in the Test squad and says he plumped for the traditional regional underdogs after being impressed by director of rugby Dean Ryan.

South Wales Argus:

"I spoke to all the regions and they all talked really well," said Tompkins. "I suppose from the Dragons point of view, it was quite refreshing when I spoke to Dean Ryan.

"It was just quite open and honest. I liked all the regions, but the Dragons seemed the up and coming, exciting one.

"They just spoke differently and it sounded more like what I had been used to than other clubs. That's really because of Dean and what he's doing.

"I spoke to a lot of people before making the decision, including (Saracens director of rugby) Mark McCall.

"We talked at length about Dean and what he's doing and some of the players they have, some of the young talent. I just felt it was the best option for me.

"There were times when it was up and down with other clubs, but I think I have landed at the right place."

Tompkins is used to challenging for silverware at Sarries, where he plays alongside Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje, the Vunipola brothers, Jamie George and Elliot Daly.

The Dragons are at the other end of the scale but the centre is relishing the chance to help build on an encouraging first campaign under Ryan.

South Wales Argus:

"There were at least three one-year loan deals," Tompkins said about the other offers. "It came down to the security, what the prospects were, how exciting things could be.

"I came to the decision with the Dragons because of the excitement of it, where we could take this group and just how it's being coached and led.

"I don't think that can be stated enough because behind every good team there's someone guiding the ship, leading and just nudging in the right direction and talking about the right stuff.

"The chat and culture around a team is really important and they have it here at the Dragons."

Ryan took the reins last summer and led the region to a solid campaign in the PRO14, including derby wins against the Scarlets and Ospreys plus a first away win for over four years, and the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup.

The former England forward's clarity has impressed Tompkins.

South Wales Argus:

"For me, it's the honesty he brings. He will tell you what you need to get better, but he's also humble in terms of saying what he's not good at," said Tompkins.

"There doesn't seem to be any panic, there's no need to pull a rabbit out of a hat.

"It's very straightforward what we need to do. It's about working unbelievably hard and enjoying each other's company and enjoy playing for the club.

"It's hard to actually keep that culture as good as it can be, but it's being done because of Dean and his leadership.

"I don't think enough can be said about him and what he's doing at the club. It's definitely rejuvenated the club."

The Dragons are working on the assumption that Tompkins, as well as their other high-profile signing Jonah Holmes, will be eligible for the European Challenge Cup quarter-final at Bristol in September.

The centre is only at Rodney Parade for a year but wants it an enjoyable, if brief, stay.

"The Dragons put their trust in me and backed me and I am going to try and repay it as much as I can," he said.

"So I've got the long-term deal at Sarries, but it's really all about these 12 months now and how I can try and help.

"Whatever role they need me to be, I'm going to do it to the best of my ability."