Iain Henderson has outlined his intention to help drive Ireland towards success now and in the future, after signing a two-year extension to his IRFU contract.
The Ulster captain – who has made 116 appearances for the Belfast-based side – will remain at the Kingspan Stadium until at least 2023, while continuing to compete for a spot in Andy Farrell’s XV at senior international level.
Having come on as a second half substitute in Ireland’s 2021 Guinness Six Nations opening defeat to Wales, Henderson was bestowed with the honour of being named his country’s 108th captain against France in Round 2, in the absence of Johnny Sexton, James Ryan and Peter O’Mahony.
The 29-year-old is now in line to win his 61 Test cap in a crunch clash with Italy at the Stadio Olimpico next time out, in which Ireland will be hoping to kick-start their campaign and remain in touch with France and Wales at the top of the standings.
And after making four appearances as Ireland roared to the Grand Slam three years ago, Henderson is looking forward to contributing his leadership qualities on the field for many years to come.
He said: “It has been a great honour to captain both Ulster and Ireland in recent times. Irish Rugby is in a good place despite the disruption the sport has experienced during the pandemic.
“As professionals we have been in a privileged position to be able to continue playing and I know we all hope to see supporters back in the Aviva and Kingspan in the near future.”
David Nucifora, IRFU performance director, added: “Over the past few seasons Iain has really developed into a leader within both the Ireland and Ulster squads.
“He is part of the national leadership group, captaining Ireland recently for the first time, and we are delighted to have ensured that he continues his career in Ireland.”