Alex Cuthbert says he's a better player for leaving Cardiff Blues
It also stalled his Test career, with the wing being 13 appearances short of a 60-cap threshold required to meet selection criteria for those players who moved outside Wales after that policy was introduced.
Cuthbert then touched down twice when Wales crushed England 12 months later to secure more silverware, and such consistent form helped elevate him to the 2013 British and Irish Lions Test team in Australia.
But at 29, he now has a different challenge and focus and is set to line up for Exeter against European champions Saracens in Saturday’s Premiership final at Twickenham.
“It is quite weird watching it all with Wales,” Cuthbert told Press Association Sport.
“I have been there and done it in terms of winning a Grand Slam, and I know the feeling. It is such a good feeling, and you miss that sort of thing more than anything. You miss that excitement.”
Cuthbert, though, has been an important part of Exeter reaching a fourth-successive Twickenham showpiece – just nine years after attaining Premiership status.
“To have a chance of winning a Premiership final in my first year, that’s one of the reasons why I came here,” he added.
“They are the big games you want to be playing in, especially at club level.
“One hundred per cent and probably more, it has met my expectations in terms of how good the boys are down here, the coaching, how they look after you.
“I am enjoying my rugby more than ever, and to get a win on Saturday would top off a great season.
“I feel like I have come on leaps and bounds since I joined Exeter in terms of my game and game-management, and I am just enjoying playing rugby again.
“I enjoyed my time at the Blues, but I just needed a new experience. It was too good an opportunity to turn down.
“I feel I still have a lot more to give, and being a bit more fresh-minded opened my eyes a bit more.
“It’s very simple at the end of the day, the game of rugby. I reckon maybe when I was in Wales, I was sort of looking at it too deeply, really.”
Cuthbert will be 31 when his existing Exeter deal expires in 2021, and any hopes of possible further Wales honours are for another day.
At the moment, it is a watching brief when it comes to Wales – not that it has lowered his excitement level one bit ahead of the World Cup later this year.
“I think if Wales keep the right boys fit, hopefully they have a good build-up, and if they win their group they could go all the way,” he said.
“They have got a very settled team with a few boys coming back, and I will be excited to watch from afar.”
Join RugbyPass+ now and be a part of the conversation with all-new commenting!