Edinburgh have confirmed that Scotland international Geoff Cross is one of three front-row specialists to extend their contracts at the club for at least two years.
Cross, who played in the 2011 World Cup and is back with the national squad for the Six Nations, is joined by 23-year-old Lewis Niven and 19-year-old Robin Hislop with the trio's commitment a huge boost just four days out from the club's bid for a place in the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup.
Edinburgh head coach, Michael Bradley said: "It's fantastic for the club to be able to announce the contract extensions of three very talented and technical athletes at such an exciting time for the club.
"It's testimony to Edinburgh's ambition that, at a time when everyone is caught up in the Heineken Cup hysteria of today, there is a lot of hard work going on behind the scenes to ensure we are back here tomorrow," he added.
Cross, a qualified doctor, has thrived under the guidance of the club's forwards’ coach and former Scotland and British Lions prop, Tom Smith. Cross was first rewarded for his hard graft at the coalface with an international debut against Wales in the opening match of the 2009 Six Nations.
Since then he has become a regular for Scotland, packing down in the unprecedented 2-0 series win over the Pumas in Argentina in 2010, before earning a call for the 2011 World Cup.
"Edinburgh provide me with an environment in which I can improve and flourish. There's a good set of guys here and I'm enjoying the challenges that we've got ahead of us," said Cross.
"I'm very confident that we can continue to progress. There's the right environment to train well, train hard and challenge each other and that's something I enjoy.
Like Cross, Niven has signed up until 2014 and is entering the stage of his career at which Cross first joined the club five years ago.
Born and bred in Edinburgh, the former age-grade international earned his stripes at Accies clubs Leith, Trinity and Edinburgh, before making his professional debut against Cardiff this time last year.
Another to benefit from the prestigious John Macphail Scholarship, Niven has gone on to make 21 appearances for Edinburgh Rugby, enjoying game-time in his preferred position of tighthead.
He said: "When I was younger I used to come and watch Edinburgh. It's been a real honour to represent the city and the east of Scotland and great that I'll get to do that for the foreseeable future.
"I'm happy that I've started a lot more matches this season, particularly at tighthead, though I'm working hard on making the next step, which is to challenge for the starting spot at the club.
"Strength and power are aspects of my game I always work very hard on because it's important props have power but I also want to develop my analysis of the match during the game, gauging the strengths and weaknesses of my opposite man in the scrum to get the upper hand.
"With an all-international starting front-row at Edinburgh I believe this is definitely the right place to make those improvements in my game," he said.
The third element of the trio is promising youngster Robin Hislop, who penned an extended deal to 2015.
While his success at a young age has earned him a second stint in the Scotland under-20 squad, the ambitious Langholm-man has made seven appearances this season, with his sights set on being a regular feature in the black and red.
He said: "I'm very happy to have signed a new contract. It's been a goal of mine since I was a wee boy to be a professional rugby player and I'm delighted that Michael [Bradley] has given me the opportunity to pursue that at Edinburgh."
The trio are the latest players to commit their future to Edinburgh following on from the contract extensions of scrumhalf and captain, Greig Laidlaw, young flyahlves Harry Leonard and Gregor Hunter, centre Matt Scott and forwards David Denton, Stuart McInally, Sean Cox and Steven Turnbull.
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