Ireland’s only duo to have played a part in the 2009 and 2018 Grand Slams, Rory Best and Dave Kearney, along with Iain Henderson have signed contract extensions with the IRFU until after the Japan World Cup.
As well as enjoying success in northern hemisphere rugby, both players were also involved in Ireland’s historic wins over South Africa and New Zealand in 2016.
Best, 35, feels his best rugby is still ahead of him as he stands in line to earn a 100th start for Ireland at next year’s World Cup.
“I am in a very privileged position as captain of Ireland and Ulster to be involved with two groups of incredibly talented players,” Best said.
“I feel I can continue to make a contribution to both Ireland and Ulster and am delighted to have extended my IRFU contract to the next World Cup.
“Support of family, friends and supporters is a hugely important element for any professional sportsperson and I would like to thank everyone for their support, but specifically my wife Jodie who has been incredible and has ensured that as a family we have been able to share in all the great memories of the last few years.”
Kearney will have to contend with more talk around 20-year-old prodigy Jordan Larmour in contention for the Leinster and Ireland 15 shirt.
The 31-year-old said: “I’m delighted. There have been some fantastic days for both Ireland and Leinster over the course of my career and there is huge potential for growth in both squads as we look to build and develop and challenge for honours.”
Henderson, who has penned a new three-year deal, was also delighted to sign a new deal: “I am delighted and extremely proud to extend my playing career in Ireland for a further three years.
“The Irish rugby setup is one of the best in world rugby and, since turning professional, I have been able to develop in an environment that has seen both provincial and national teams being part of some fantastic days and indeed some challenging times over the past seasons.
“I am extremely confident that, with both Ulster and Ireland, we will continue to meet those challenges head-on.”