Connacht full-back Robbie Henshaw has signed a full two-year contract with the province which will keep the 19-year-old at the club until 2015.
It is a welcome boost for Connacht, who confirmed yesterday that lock Mike McCarthy is departing for Leinster.
It has been a big season for Athlone-born teenager Henshaw who only last March captained his school, Marist College, to their first Connacht Senior Cup success in thirty-five years.
Last week he started against French giants Biarritz in round three of the Heineken Cup and contributed significantly to the 22-14 victory over the defending Amlin Challenge Cup champions.
Henshaw was named on the bench for the RaboDirect PRO12 opener against Cardiff Blues back in September. He took his chances well and was called upon for the subsequent two games.
He then played the full 80 minutes against Glasgow Warriors and Leinster, first at centre before moving to full-back.
Since then, he has established himself as a key component in Connacht's back line and is one of only two squad members to have featured in all 13 games this season.
Henshaw has represented Ireland at U19 level and was part of the 2011 Ireland Schools team who were crowned FIRA-AER U18 European Champions following their final 17 - 8 win over England.
He has also played for the Westmeath minor footballers and represented his county in 2010 and 2011.
The rising star is grateful for the opportunity which the Connacht management have given him and he admits he is excited about his future with the province.
"I'm absolutely delighted to have signed a full contract with Connacht,” he said. “This is my home province and it's so good to have the chance to play here. Last year, my ambitions were to get into the academy, that's all I wanted.
“Then I got on the bench for the first game of the season and the last three months have been amazing.
“Nigel (Carolan) has been great to me and Eric (Elwood) has given young players a chance here, so I owe them both a lot.
“Connacht has progressed so much in recent years and a few years ago it wouldn't have been possible for me to be playing for my local region."
Connacht CEO, Tom Sears has been impressed with Henshaw’s development and admires the youngster’s loyalty to his home province.
"Robbie is another one of the outstanding young talents we have at Connacht and we are delighted he signed a new contract, one he fully deserves," Sears commented.
"His contribution this season has been fantastic and we have no doubt he will continue to develop and be a key player at Connacht for years to come.
“His commitment to his home province is a credit to him, particularly in the face of strong overtures from other provinces while he has been a member of our Academy."