‘IT’S the hope that kills you’, an unofficial mantra for Dragons supporters that rang true for stalwart Adam Warren in the last week of the season.

After seven campaigns and 131 appearances for the Rodney Parade region, the centre was told his time was coming to an end.

The 31-year-old from Burry Port isn’t daft, he knew that he was in the firing line because of the summer arrivals of Max Clark and Sio Tomkinson from Bath and the Highlanders.

This was not new territory and Warren hoped a late deal would materialise, just as it did in 2019 and last year.

Alas, despite starting in the last nine fixtures the bad news came from director of rugby Dean Ryan in the build-up to the finale against the Lions.

“I saw how things were shaping up coming towards the end of the year. I know they had made some centre signings earlier in the season and other positions then became more of a priority,” said Warren.

“I got a run of games and was playing pretty well but it was always in the back of my mind that there might not be something there.

“We went to South Africa and it was always going to be tough but I felt I did my bits well and from there we went into derbies where I don’t think I looked out of place.

“There was the hope that something would open up at the Dragons, if not then possibly elsewhere in Wales, but squads are full.

“I am alright with it now, but I was frustrated – I just wanted a decision to be made and it’s tough when things are left that late.

“But I would say that everybody has a tough job in professional sport and it’s not easy for the likes of Dean; they have to make big calls and juggle a lot of factors.”

South Wales Argus: FAREWELL: Adam Warren runs onto the field as a Dragon for the last time with his boysFAREWELL: Adam Warren runs onto the field as a Dragon for the last time with his boys

Warren is generous but it has been a theme at the Dragons – stalwarts tend to get left until late.

Nic Cudd suffered the same fate in 2019 and ruptured knee ligaments while waiting, Brok Harris took control of his own destiny after being left hanging last year and is currently chasing the URC title with the Stormers.

Would humble, dependable Warren have been dealt with swiftly if he had a bigger ego and dazzling highlights reel that features 9/10 moments but ignores the 4/10 performances?

“I wouldn’t necessarily say that I am taken advantage of but as a player I do all of the nuts and bolts well,” he said.

“Because the Dragons haven’t been a team winning week in, week out, it can be easier to look away from a player like me towards somebody more flashy that can do something out of nothing.

“That has always been the case, when I have played well for the Dragons it has probably not been enough to get the massive interest from elsewhere, which has meant that the Dragons are comfortable with the situation of trying to solve it late on.

“I suppose if you are not in that bracket of Welsh internationals but are a really good squad player they are probably willing to delay so that they can look at adding some big names.”

Clark and Tomkinson have big boots to fill when they arrive to battle with Jack Dixon and Aneurin Owen for midfield spots.

Warren was brought in by Lyn Jones and was a firm fixture in the side for Kingsley Jones, Bernard Jackman, interim boss Ceri Jones and Ryan.

He ended on 132 appearances for the Dragons, a tally that puts him third on the midfield podium behind Jack Dixon (154) and Ashley Smith (161).

South Wales Argus: HIGHLIGHT: Adam Warren carries hard for the Dragons against GloucesterHIGHLIGHT: Adam Warren carries hard for the Dragons against Gloucester

“I loved that first season under Lyn and Kingsley,” said Warren, who started all 30 games of that 2015/16 campaign.

“We beat Leinster and Ulster at home and then there was the quarter-final win at Gloucester, which is the highlight for so many players.

“We had that run in Europe and we also had 10 losing bonus points, so were there or thereabouts. That showed we were competitive and it was the small margins, we could have finished much higher up.

“I’ve always enjoyed the derbies and we stepped up with a few big wins like Judgement Day and a few against the Scarlets and Ospreys… it was just Cardiff that was missing!

“It has been such an enjoyable environment and my time at the Dragons was so positive, the only thing that was missing was a few more wins.”

Warren is now mulling over his next step, which is likely to be playing semi-professional rugby and starting the next stage of his working life.

He had an interest in being a PE teacher before going full-time at the Scarlets while strength and conditioning is a passion.

“It came to an end at the Dragons and I was quite emotional but as soon as I had the talk with Dean there was a bit of relief that I could start targeting other things,” he said.

“There has been a lot to get my head around but I am positive now, I am nowhere near playing rugby and still love the game.”

The Dragons should keep an eye out west – if they have a crisis then they know one man they would be able to depend on and Warren, one of their greatest servants, is too polite to tell them to shove it.