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Dublin: 13 °C Monday 10 August, 2020
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Boost for Ireland as star trio pen new deals

Brian O’Driscoll, Jonny Sexton and Jamie Heaslip secure their futures with IRFU agreements.

Image: INPHO/Billy Stickland

IN WHAT IS great news for Irish rugby fans, three of the country’s top players have committed their futures to the IRFU.

National team captain Brian O’Driscoll, Jamie Heaslip and Jonathan Sexton have all agreed new contracts and will remain playing in Ireland.

Jonathan Sexton had been the subject of strong interest from a Top 14 side, as reported earlier. But the Leisnter out half has signed a new contract up until June 2013.

Brian O’Driscoll is to finish his playing career in Dublin as he pens a deal which runs until 2012/13 season while Jamie Heaslip is now contracted up until June 2014.

IRFU chief executive Philip Browne said: “This is exceptionally good news for Ireland and Leinster to be making the announcement that Brian, Jamie and Jonathan have agreed new contracts to continue playing here in Ireland.

“I believe that they have made the right choice for everybody concerned and would like to express my delight at each of them making this commitment.

They have shown that their desire to continue their careers in Ireland and play for Leinster was the strongest factor in making their decision.

“While being equally delighted at both Jamie and Jonathan’s decision to sign new contracts, I feel I do need to make a special mention about Brian.

“He has shown unwavering professionalism and commitment to Irish and Leinster rugby throughout his career and is also the perfect example to all young players, showing how the Irish system provides support for natural talent and can have a positive influence on their development and potential by remaining playing here in Ireland,” he added.

Jamie Heaslip, typically, was first with the news on Twitter.

The No 8 added in an IRFU statement:  ”I am pleased to have agreed a new contract and to commit myself to Leinster for a further three years. I have been fortunate to enjoy some great success already in my career and I want to achieve more with Leinster and Ireland in the years ahead.”

O’Driscoll, meanwhile, is happy to continue in his hometown. “Playing in Ireland with Leinster for my entire career has been all the more enjoyable knowing that my rugby goals I have achieved to date were with an organisation that has really grown at the same time as me over the last 10 years,” he said.

“Leinster and Irish rugby has progressed so far during that time that winning Magners Leagues, Heineken Cups and Grand Slams was infinitely more satisfying knowing that it was done playing in Ireland with my home province.”

My appetite to achieve more with Leinster and Ireland certainly has not been dampened by our recent success.

“While I have been in Leinster over eleven years, it is great to see the next generation coming through and I am a little jealous as they have the chance to experience even more success then I have had.

“I am looking forward to the start of the Six Nations, and after that I can focus on those other long term goals with Ireland and Leinster over the next two years,” he added.

Kicking On

Jonathan Sexton’s long-awaited deal is perhaps the most welcome. Up until this morning, the out half was the subject of intense speculation about his future.

The IRFU were unavailable for comment to TheScore earlier before we were told at lunchtime that a statement was to be made. Thankfully, for Irish rugby fans, it is good news for Leinster.

“There is something special building in Leinster at the moment and as well as the involvement with Ireland in a World Cup year, that was the main influence on my decision,” he said.

“It has been great to get my contract finalised ahead of what is going to be a pretty exciting and challenging period for the Ireland squad and now I just want to focus on playing the best rugby that I can and hopefully contributing to further success with Ireland and Leinster.”

Read all the build-up coverage here>

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