Good times for Leinster on and off the pitch.
As Joe Schmidt’s men celebrated passage to another Heineken Cup final, the province received another shot in the arm with confirmation that Gordon D’Arcy, Isa Nacewa and a host of other big-name talent have committed to remaining on the books of the European champions. However Luke Fitzgerald remains a notable exception from the list despite Schmidt last week hinting that the Irish winger was close to finalising a deal.
D’Arcy, who made his Leinster debut in 1998 and has amassed more than 200 appearances for the club, has inked a new international contract that takes him up until 2014 with IRFU chief executive Philip Browne admitting the deal is “another indicator of the successful policy of keeping as many of our top players here so that they can continue to contribute to the success of both Ireland and the provincial teams.”
D’Arcy is one of 18 contract extensions and two new signings bolstering Leinster for the seasons ahead. Ireland international Kevin McLaughlin has signed a three-year deal while fellow internationals Isaac Boss, Eoin Reddan and Rhys Ruddock have penned two-year deals.
Isa Nacewa has signed a one-year extension to his deal until the end of the 2013/14 season while captain Leo Cullen, Fionn Carr, John Cooney, Brendan Macken and Springbok prop Heinke van der Merwe have all agreed one-year deals.
The province also announce two-year agreements with two Irish-qualified forwards who will link up with the province this summer; 25-year-old tight-head prop Michael Bent who has signed a deal from Super 15 franchise the Hurricanes and 24-year-old second row Tom Denton, who has signed from Leeds Carnegie.
Leinster coach Joe Schmidt said: “Gordon is a born and bred Leinster man and since his debut in 1998 has been a highly consistent performer for Leinster. His competitiveness and ability have had added huge value, both on and off the field. We’re delighted Gordon will be extending his long association with his home province and I am confident he will continue to make a positive impression both on and off the field.
“By swiftly concluding these deals, it enables us to plan ahead and I would like to pay tribute to all those who have assisted in the process. The process of recruitment can be quite drawn out, but we are delighted to announce these new extensions as well as welcoming Michael and Tom, who are two highly-rated forwards who will add to the competitiveness in our pack over the coming seasons.
“There is a welcome mix of home grown youth and experienced players amongst this batch.”
LEINSTER RENEWALS: Leo Auva’a, (2 years), Isaac Boss, (2 years), Fionn Carr, (1 year), Andrew Conway, (2 years), John Cooney, (1 year), Leo Cullen, (1 year), Gordon D’Arcy, (2 years), Aaron Dundon, (2 years), Mark Flanagan, (1 year Development), David Kearney, (2 years), Brendan Macken, (1 year), Ian Madigan, (2 years), Kevin McLaughlin, (3 years), Isa Nacewa, (1 year extension), Eoin Reddan, (2 years), Rhys Ruddock, (2 years), Thomas Sexton, (1 year Development), Heinke van der Merwe, (1 year).
NEW CONTRACTS: Michael Bent, (2 years), Tom Denton, (2 years).
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