Powerful lock Paul O'Connell, who was recently named as captain of Ireland for the Six Nations in the absence of Brian O'Driscoll, has signed a two-year contract extension with Ireland and his club Munster.
The 2009 British and Irish Lions captain, who has 82 Test caps for Ireland, also skippers Pro12 champions Munster who he has represented 127 times.
Ireland Coach Declan Kidney said: "It is a very strong message when you have a player of Paul's standing opting to continue playing in Ireland with Munster.
"Paul has been a very important player and leader for both Ireland and Munster during his career and I am especially pleased that he has come back so strongly after his injury troubles," he added.
O'Connell boasts an incredibly successful career record so far having won two Heineken Cups, two Celtic League titles and a Celtic Cup with Munster as well as racking up five triple crowns, a Six Nations title and a Grand Slam with Ireland who he has represented in the last three World Cups.
O'Connell commented: "I have been lucky over the last ten years to play with a team like Munster which has such phenomenal support and I have enjoyed a lot of success during that time.
"So much has changed since my first games for Munster and Ireland, with Heineken cup and Grand Slam wins, brand new stadiums and having the opportunity to play with so many good players, that it was always a very easy decision to remain in my home province," he said.
Speaking about the future O'Connell said: "I am feeling really good both mentally and physically, which in part goes down to how well we are looked after here in Ireland, so I am looking forward to the remainder of this season and beyond and doing all I can to help make Munster and Ireland as successful as possible."
Munster Coach Tony McGahan said: "I'm of course delighted that Paul has agreed an extension to his contract that sees him remain with Munster for the next two seasons.
"He's an integral part of the squad whose influence goes way beyond his on-field performances. He is a leader both on and off the field, a quality recognised by his recent appointment as Irish captain and the perfect role model for those who aspire to play professional rugby."
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