Josh Lewsey - "the Welshman who got away" - says regional rugby is working in Wales.
The England and London Wasps fullback - whose mother is a Welsh speaker and was born in Cwmllynfell - was on the receiving end of last Sunday's Heineken Cup loss to the Celtic Warriors, and says the new-look regional system should get the credit.
"Welsh rugby has been through a torrid time recently," Lewsey said in a newspaper column.
"Some doubters questioned it at the time, but the positive performances of their national team in the World Cup, aligned with the competitive nature of Celtic Warriors, Llanelli Scarlets and The Dragons, clearly vindicates the changes.
"It's an unfortunate situation but a brave necessity in order to maintain the existence of the professional game."
Lewsey added: "Whole communities in Wales, along with the game in general, need Welsh rugby to be strong and it seems after a few fallow years that it certainly is where it's going.
"Yet from my point of view they can continue this renaissance once our game against Celtic Warriors finishes."
The return game in Pool Six takes place at the Brewery Field on Friday and Lewsey is looking forward to playing in front of a sellout 10,000-strong crowd.
"The result at the Causeway Stadium will make the re-match on Friday night mouth-watering prospect," Lewsey said. "Pool Six is the tightest of all, with three teams level top with 10points. Consequently, the next two away games are simply must-wins for us to progress."
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