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Brendan Moran Henderson has won 36 caps.
# Pen to Paper
Iain Henderson commits long-term future to Ulster and Ireland
The IRFU will be relieved to have secured the services of the second row for a further three years.

IAIN HENDERSON HAS become the third member of Joe Schmidt’s Grand Slam-winning squad to today put pen-to-paper on a new deal with the IRFU, thus committing his long-term future to Ulster and Ireland.

The second row featured in four of Ireland’s games during the Six Nations campaign and has become a key pillar in Schmidt’s side, amassing 36 caps since his debut against South Africa in November 2012.

Henderson joins captain Rory Best and Rob Kearney in signing contract extensions with the IRFU ahead of the 2019 World Cup, with the 26-year-old’s new three-year deal seeing him tied down 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.

“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.

“As a proud Ulster man, I have always stated my desire to help Ulster secure lasting success and a legacy that mirrors that of our neighbouring provinces. 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.”

Best, Kearney and Henderson were the only players in the Ireland squad still to accept or reject contract offers from IRFU performance director David Nucifora before the Six Nations, so today’s news is a major fillip for the union and Schmidt, not to mention Ulster.

Henderson’s stock rose further during last summer’s Lions series and he has developed into an important leader in the Ireland pack, with the lock’s partnership with James Ryan earmarked as Schmidt’s first-choice pairing for the World Cup.

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“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,” Nucifora said.

“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.”

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