STAR hooker Gerwyn Price has left Cross Keys to rejoin his former club Neath who are desperately battling to secure their Principality Premiership survival.
The talented front rower from Markham, near Blackwood, is understood to have signed a lucrative sponsorship deal which also allows him to pursue his dream of making it as a top professional darts player.
The 28-year-old, who enjoyed a short two-match spell as a pro rugby player with Glasgow Warriors last year, earned his Professional Darts Corporation tour card at a qualifying tournament in Wigan in January.
It means he is able to compete against the sport’s leading lights like Phil 'The Power' Taylor, and world champion Michael van Gerwen.
Price had seemed on the verge of being signed by the Newport Gwent Dragons in recent seasons after his explosive displays for Keys, but he was never offered a deal by the region despite having trained with them.
He did eventually play as a pro at Rodney Parade but, ironically, it was when he came on as a replacement for Glasgow in their 60-3 humiliation of the Dragons in February 2013.
Keys head coach Greg Woods is disappointed Price has decided to leave Pandy Park again but wished him the best for the future.
The 5ft 10in and 15st 3lb livewire played for Keys in 2005 before transferring to Neath, rejoining the Gwent Valleys side in 2011 and coming back to them again after his short-term deal with the Warriors.
He was an integral member of the successful side which won the Swalec Cup in 2012, scoring a spectacular individual try in the heroic 32-19 triumph over Pontypridd at the Millennium Stadium final.
“We were always very supportive of Gerwyn’s career and we were disappointed to see him leave,” Woods said.
“He can always hold his head up high at Cross Keys. And, although we will miss Gezzie, we are confident our hookers Darren Hughes and Henry Palmer will do well in replacing him.”
Price also represented Wales at Under-21 level and played rugby league for the South Wales Scorpions.
He joins a Neath side embroiled in a relegation dog fight, just three points better off than bottom side Swansea.
With Ebbw Vale certain of being promoted as Swalec Championship winners, the Welsh All Blacks will be for the trap door if they finish last in the 12-team Premiership.
Price is not the first Keys player to rejoin Neath during the season.
Utility back Aaron Bramwell is also back playing at the Gnoll after he transferred to Woods’ side in the summer.
Price’s move is an unusual one and from a Keys side who are performing strongly in the league and now through to the Swalec Cup quarter-finals after Saturday’s 31-3 hammering of Bedwas away.