Pontypridd lock Chris Dicomidis has joined Cardiff Blues on a full-time basis on a long-term deal.
The 29-year-old has been a key figure for Pontypridd over the last decade and was appointed captain in 2010.
Dicomidis represented Wales at Under-19 and Under-21 levels as well as the Barbarians and has played for Cyprus.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to become part of the Blues squad and taking my chance at professional rugby,” he said.
Dicomidis is the second big name to leave Pontypridd for the Blues during recent weeks.
Ponty head coach Dale McIntosh left his role at Sardis Road to become the region’s new defence coach in October.
“You always hope you’ll get the call to join a full-time set-up and I’ve spoken to Dale about the region and what is expected,” Dicomidis said.
“I’m determined to grasp this opportunity with both hands and show what I can achieve.”
Blues director of rugby Phil Davies said: “He will strengthen our second row resources, with Lou Reed and Bradley Davies currently sidelined, and I know he is determined to take this opportunity.
“We are excited to see what he can achieve in a full-time professional environment.”
Dicomidis progressed through the junior teams of Pencoed RFC, before joining the junior side of Cardiff RFC – Cardiff Junior Blue & Blacks before it disbanded at Under 15’s level and moved to Old Penarthians RFC. He then joined Tondu RFC as a fullback.
Studying sports and leisure management at UWIC, Dicomidis represented the University team in the first division during the 2004-05 season, making a number of appearances on permit for Pontypridd in the league and cup. Further international honours followed with Wales Universities.
At the beginning of the 2005-06 season, Dicomidis was drafted into the Pontypridd senior squad. A good run of form was rewarded with a call up to the Wales under 21 squad, for whom he won caps during the Six Nations campaign and the age group World Cup tournament in France.
Dicomidis was voted joint recipient of the “Most Improved Player of the Year” award for 2006 by the Pontypridd Supporters’ Club.