Tommy Bowe has signed a new three-year deal to keep him at Ulster until June 2018.
The 30-year-old wing has signed a joint contract with the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU), just two days after in-demand full-back Rob Kearney committed his long-term future to Leinster.
Johnny Sexton’s decision to return to Leinster next summer after two years in France was the first big victory in Ireland’s battle to keep top stars on home soil.
Kearney and now Bowe completing quickfire new deals without fuss further boosts boss Joe Schmidt’s long-range preparations for Rugby World Cup 2015.
Want some great news to start your day?! @TommyBowe14 will be at Ulster until at least 2018!! http://t.co/1bG6eSjFZ7— Ulster Rugby (@UlsterRugby) November 13, 2014
“I am delighted to have signed a new contract with the IRFU and Ulster,” said Bowe, who has won 55 caps.
“It is an exciting time for both the province and the national team and I hope to play a part in achieving success on both fronts in the years to come.”
I am delighted to have signed for Ulster and Ireland for another 3 years. Its exciting times with both teams and I hope to be part of them— Tommy Bowe (@TommyBowe) November 13, 2014
Performance director David Nucifora has exerted pivotal influence over the IRFU’s new policy of fuss-free contract negotiations.
Last season the likes of Sean O’Brien and Jamie Heaslip came extremely close to shipping out to France, only to sign new Leinster and IRFU deals at the 11th hour.
Since former Wallabies front-rower Nucifora’s arrival however, the IRFU has resolved to take a new approach to keeping top stars in the provincial system.
Sexton’s impending return from Racing Metro underscored that shift, with Kearney and Bowe quickly following suit in tying up new deals.
“We are delighted that Tommy has committed his future to Ulster and Ireland for the next three years,” said Nucifora.
“Tommy has proven his value to Irish rugby over the years with stand-out performances for both Ulster and Ireland.”
Ulster underwent widespread off-field changes in the summer, with coaches David Humphreys and Mark Anscombe both departing Ravenhill.
British and Irish Lions wing Bowe committing to a long-term new deal proves a welcome endorsement for head coach Neil Doak’s reign, with Les Kiss poised to become Ulster’s full-time rugby director after next year’s World Cup.
“It is a great boost to the province that Tommy has signed a new IRFU contract which keeps him at Ulster,” said Ulster CEO Shane Logan.
“We have seen what he brings to the squad both on and off the pitch and he is one of the players that makes Ulster Rugby such an exciting place to be.”