FORMER Dragons fly-half Jason Tovey says it was the need to start thinking about life away from rugby that led him to turn down offers from England, France and Italy in favour of a deal with Cross Keys.

The 28-year-old, the record points scorer in the Rodney Parade region's history, will head for Pandy Park when his deal with Edinburgh expires at the end of the season.

The left-footer swapping the Guinness PRO14 for the Principality Premiership has raised a few eyebrows given that Tovey still has plenty to give in the pro game.

But after making his Dragons debut against the Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium as a 18-year-old in 2008, the fly-half said he has to think about the future.

"It was time to make a decision," said Tovey, who turns 29 next Saturday. "I had a few offers to go abroad or to England but I was ready to come home and get into the real world of work with a few job options lined up.

"I still wanted to play rugby and I'm from Cross Keys, so that was where I wanted to go.

"I could have done another few years somewhere but I've had two operations since I have been up here and maybe that was my body saying that I need to step down for a year and start enjoying my rugby.

"The Premiership is still a good standard and I will enjoy throwing the ball around and not have as many worries or trying to grind through training when the body is feeling sore."

Tovey moved to Edinburgh in 2016, his exploits ensuring an initial loan was turned into a permanent deal.

At the time he said he wanted to get out of his comfort zone and after making 33 appearances for the PRO14 play-off hopefuls, feels it's mission accomplished on that front.

"I've loved it. They are a great bunch of boys here and the fans are passionate," said Tovey.

"Last year wasn't great for results but it has picked up this season and I played a lot of rugby from October to December.

"I felt I was playing well but then I had a knee injury that kept me out until March. 'Cockers' (head coach Richard Cockerill) made a decision to go with other 10s and there wasn't a lot I could do."

Coaches in the professional game could well yet try and tempt Tovey back if they are short of a 10 during 2018/19.

"Never say never and maybe I still could have a couple of years at the top, but at the moment my mind is made up and that's me done. I've had 12 years of it now, so can't complain," he said.

"When you are playing rugby a lot of people ask what you are going to do after it but you think that you don't have to worry about that yet.

"I reached a point this season when I thought 'right, what am I going to do?' and I felt it was time to make a decision and come back to reality."

Tovey played youth rugby for the Keys and, after playing his Premiership rugby with Bedwas and Newport as a Dragons academy prospect, returned to the club to pull the strings in the 2012 British & Irish Cup final defeat to Munster A in Cork.

The playmaker had two spells with the Rodney Parade region, making his debut in 2008 and then returning in 2013 after an ill-fated season with Cardiff Blues.

Tovey, who used to practice his kicking at Waunfawr Park close to Keys' ground, moved past Ceri Sweeney's points total of 570 in 2013 to move to the top of the Dragons chart and had a tally of 951 when he left for Scotland.

Head coach Morgan Stoddart is thrilled to have secured the services of such an experienced campaigner for next season, when relegation will return in the Premiership.

"Jason will bring a lot of class to our side," said the former Wales and Scarlets full-back. "His kicking percentage is up there with the best 10s in the PRO14 and he is vocal and organises well.

"His experience will give us a boost because we have a number of young backs and after speaking to him, he still has the hunger. I think that he just wants to enjoy playing his rugby again after being on the fringes.

"It was surprising to get the message from him about playing for us but it took me about 20 seconds to get back to him! It is massive for the club to bring in a player of Jason's quality."