Luke Fitzgerald has ended speculation about his immediate future by signing a new two-year deal with home province Leinster.
Fitzgerald, 25, who sustained a season-ending knee injury during Ireland’s Six Nations defeat to Italy on March 16, had been linked with a move to Munster, with one Dublin radio station yesterday even claiming he had put pen to paper on a deal.
That latest claim, though, was met by a statement from Leinster yesterday afternoon, announcing the versatile Ireland back would remain at the club where he won three Heineken Cup winners’ medals and a Celtic League title.
“I’m delighted to commit my future here,” Fitzgerald said of his new deal, which will keep him at Leinster until the end of the 2014-15 season. “It is hugely frustrating to miss the run-in to the campaign but I’m looking forward to beginning my rehab over the coming weeks and getting back in a blue shirt next season.”
Fitzgerald’s Leinster future was in doubt as long ago as winter 2011 when he was linked with a move to a French club before signing a one-year deal last July. This deal ends any uncertainty and Leinster coach Joe Schmidt, who on Monday spoke of his desire to see the 2009 & Lions tourist to South Africa remain with his squad, was clearly happy to have achieved his objective.
“We are delighted that a player of Luke’s ability has committed his future to the province,” Schmidt said. “At just 25, his best years are ahead of him and hopefully he’ll be back better than ever early next season.”
Fitzgerald’s commitment to the cause is a further boost to Schmidt’s planning for continued success in the province in the wake of fly-half Jonny Sexton’s decision to move to Racing Metro in France next season, talented young wing AndrewConway’s move to Munster this summer and the retirement of Isa Nacewa at the end of the campaign.
Full-back Rob Kearney and props Cian Healy and Mike Ross have all put pen to paper on new IRFU deals since Christmas and now Fitzgerald looks set to add to his 26 Test appearances for Ireland whilst remaining a Leinster player.
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