It’s a long way from south-west Wales to Mont-de-Marsan, but Dan Baker has bought his flight ticket and will be heading for the medieval French town early next month.
It will herald not so much a new chapter in the No. 8's career as a new book.
Released by the Ospreys after a spell that saw him fighting injuries pretty much non-stop for three years, the 27-year-old from Ystradgynlais had found himself plunged into a world of uncertainty, with no other regional contract on the table.
But an option came in from Stade Montois in the French second division, and Baker will take it up subject to passing a medical.
It’s a lifeline for the three-cap Wales international and one he intends to make the most of, but how did he feel to have been cut loose from Welsh rugby?
“In a perfect world I guess it would have been nice if there had been an offer for me to stay in Wales,” he says.
“But nothing came up in terms of an offer here. I guess it’s not a good time to be out of contract. I guess all the regions are up against it financially right now.
“I suppose they looked at my injury problems over the past few years.
“So I get where people are coming from.
“But of course I was gutted when the Ospreys said they were letting me go.
“They are my home region and I’ve been attached to them in some capacity or other for 11 years.
“I have a lot of friends there, in the playing squad, the physio department, the strength and conditioning section — everywhere at the region. The supporters are great. I’ve become close to a lot of people there.
“But I suppose it’s business and that’s why the call was made.
“It happens and I just have to put it behind me.”
As with ex-Dragons flanker Nic Cudd, Baker has been cut loose at a difficult time, with money in short supply in rugby because of the lockdown.
But as with Cudd, the man once seen as one of Welsh rugby's mot promising players still has plenty to offer, not least in terms of his ball-carrying. It is why the Ospreys kept him on amid an injury hell that saw him suffer an awful knee problem and then smash a shoulder after his return.
The knee injury ruled him out for 699 days.
The shoulder issue placed him off limits for three months.
Fate, it seemed, just had it in for Baker.
The irony is that in the games he played in 2019-20, there was clear evidence he could more than hold his own. In his first game back, against Ulster, the renowned carrier took the ball forward 17 times in 47 minutes.
He also performed in defence over those eight matches, with a tackle completion rate of 95.5 percent.
But it wasn’t enough.
He needed to bank a run of games, so the sight of him wincing in pain during an away encounter against Munster wasn’t one that augured well.
“Rugby’s a contact sport and bumps are going to happen,” he said.
“After I was hurt against Munster I played the following week against Connacht after some treatment.
“But I had to come off at half-time as the pain was unbearable.
“What can you say? You don’t go out to get injured. You go out to do your best for your team and I’d like to think I always did that for the Ospreys.”
The challenge now is to relaunch his career from south-west France.
Stade Montois could do with some fresh impetus, with the club finishing the truncated PRO D2 season 10th out of 16 teams.
“I’m grateful for them for giving me an opportunity,” said Baker.
“It could be a great life experience.
“Mont-de-Marsan is in the south-west of France. The weather and culture will be different, and I going there with an open mind. I bought my flight tickets earlier today and will head down there on July 2, with my family following in August.
“I’ve spoken to Aled Brew about playing out there.
“He played for Biarritz for a while and messaged me to tell me about it.
“Fair play, he gave me some advice and told me to give him a call if I needed anything.
“There’s a medical for me to go through but I’m hopeful I should be OK.
“Aside from a bit of metal in my knee, I don’t think much has changed from when I was playing regularly a few years ago and people were saying I was playing well.
“I need to get games under my belt.
“I’ve signed a one-plus-one contract.
“Hopefully, I can play regularly and get back into form.
“Maybe my game will be suited to French rugby. They seem to like No. 8s who carry ball and give teams go-forward.
“Is there a chance of breaking into the Top14? My first priority is to do all I can for Stade Montois, who have given me an opportunity, after all. Everyone wants to play at the highest level possible, but if I’m on top of my game for Stade Montois, I’ll be happy and we'll see what happens."
Baker has already shown he’s made of the right stuff in battling back from all his injuries, but his character is about to be tested anew. Can he start climbing again as a player?
“There’s no point saying I’m going to this and that,” he said.
“My father always told me: ‘Do your talking on the field’.
“But what I will say is that plenty of others have bounced back from setbacks.
“Take Ashley Beck. He had a rough few years with injuries, but before the lockdown he was carving it up for Worcester.
“I’m sure he’s worked hard along the way.
“You can think about the good times, playing for Wales and the Ospreys, but I think you have to say to yourself you can still enjoy the rest of your career if things click and you put in the effort.
“Hopefully, things will work out.
“It’s playing rugby in a nice part of the world. What do I have to lose?”