Iain Henderson has signed a new IRFU contract committing to Ulster and Ireland until at least June 2021.
"I am delighted and extremely proud to extend my playing career in Ireland for a further three years," he said today.
"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.
"There is currently some exciting talent throughout Ulster and Irish rugby and it is my ambition to continue to push for further honours at both provincial and national levels.
"I am extremely thankful to my family, friends and everyone for their support, and the commitment by the IRFU with a three-year contract which will allow me to achieve my goals."
Henderson played in four of Ireland’s games during this season’s 6 Nations Championship Grand Slam success and has amassed 38 caps for the national side since his debut against South Africa in November 2012.
He also featured prominently in the 6 Nations Championship successes in 2014 and 2015.
Henderson started all three Tests in Ireland’s 2016 Summer Tour of South Africa, playing a crucial role in the historic first victory over the Springboks on South African soil, but injury ruled him out of Ireland’s famous victory over New Zealand in Chicago.
Henderson’s performances in last year’s 6 Nations Championship propelled him to selection for the 2017 British & Irish Lions tour. He made six appearances for the Lions in New Zealand.
Following a notable schoolboy career at Belfast Royal Academy, Henderson joined the Abbey Insurance Ulster Academy before making is senior debut against Connacht in 2012 at the age of 21. He has gone on to make 86 appearances for his province, scoring seven tries.
Bryn Cunningham, Ulster Rugby Operations Director, said: "Iain is a talismanic figure, and to have him commit to Ulster and Ireland for the next three years shows the commitment and faith he has, not just in being part of a successful national squad, but the optimism he has of things to come for Ulster.
"His rugby ability and physical presence are without question, but it will be his leadership that will help Ulster create a hugely competitive squad over the coming seasons."
David Nucifora, IRFU Performance Director, commented: "Iain is developing into a world class lock and has taken on the responsibility of calling the line-out in some crunch games for Ireland in recent seasons.
"This is just an example of the leadership qualities that he is illustrating for both Ireland and Ulster and his powerful displays and rugby intellect mark him out as a top class talent that have a huge influence on the game at the highest level."
- Digital desk