SCOTLAND internationalist Jonny Gray will leave Glasgow Warriors to join English Premiership side English Premiership side Exeter Chiefs next season.

The 25-year-old has become a firm favourite during his seven-and-a-half years at Warriors, making 108 appearances, as well as captaining the side at the age of just 21.

Gray has been an integral part of Warriors recent success, playing a significant role in the side’s PRO12 title win in 2015 and the second row has also gained international recognition while at Scotstoun, making 55 appearances for Scotland during his time with Glasgow.

His move to Exeter at the end of the season will see him join his former teammate Stuart Hogg at Sandy Park.

Gray, who came through the FOSROC Scottish Rugby Academy, admits it was a difficult decision to leave the club at which he has forged his professional career, but is looking forward to the fresh challenge.

“Leaving Glasgow will be tough. I love Glasgow and I’m so grateful to the club and so many people associated with the club for all they have done during my time here,” he said.

“I see the move not only as a chance to experience something new, but at the same time it’s a chance for me to develop myself, not only as a player, but as a person.

“Without doubt this was one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever had to make – and I will be giving everything between now and the end of the season to ensure my time here finishes on a high.”

Gray’s departure will be a huge loss for Warriors, who are struggling for form this season in both the PRO14 and the Champions Cup.

Glasgow Warriors Assistant Coach, Kenny Murray is disappointed to see the internationalist leave Scotstoun, but is proud of how the club have developed a young teenager into the player he has.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to coach Jonny for the entirety of his professional career to date, and it’s been a privilege to watch him develop into the world-class rugby player he is today during his time in Glasgow,” said Murray.

“He’s an example of what can be achieved with hard work and dedication and we’re extremely proud of him.

“We’ll obviously be sad to see him leave the club at the end of the season, but when he does we’ll wish him well. I’m sure he’ll be as determined as ever to end his time here on a high.”

And former Scotland internationalist, Richie Vernon, believes the move could take the Glaswegian to “the next level”.

Vernon had two spells with Warriors, before retiring last year and he believes the competition within the English Premiership will mean Gray will improve even further.

“I certainly think for him, it might just give him that bit of an extra edge that might make a difference in the long term,” Vernon told BBC Scotland.

“The competition within a club like Exeter and in the league itself, the level of physicality, that could well just keep pushing him.

“It’s the depth, and the threat of relegation, which makes a huge difference.Week in, week out, you have to deliver.”