Ireland’s bosses have hailed the significant coup of retaining “world-class” centre Robbie Henshaw on a new three-year contract.
Henshaw has signed new terms to remain in Ireland with Leinster until 2022, leaving Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) performance director David Nucifora purring.
British and Irish Lions centre Henshaw has racked up 37 caps since his 2013 Test debut, helping Ireland to the 2018 Six Nations Grand Slam.
Leinster flanker Sean O’Brien will join London Irish after the autumn’s World Cup, but Henshaw’s new deal is a reminder of the IRFU’s powers in retaining the bulk of their top stars.
“Robbie has established himself as a leader within this Ireland squad and has delivered consistent world-class performances which have helped to drive the sustained success enjoyed by the national team,” said Nucifora.
“He has a hunger for improvement and in driving the standards of those around him.”
Henshaw missed Ireland’s 22-13 Six Nations win in Scotland due to a dead leg but should be back in contention for Sunday’s trip to Rome to face Italy.
The former Connacht star featured at full-back in Ireland’s 32-20 opening-weekend defeat to England, with head coach Joe Schmidt rotating his backline resources.
Henshaw made his name in the role at provincial level, but had not featured there for Ireland since his 2013 debut.
Ireland’s back three struggled positionally in that England defeat, and Schmidt would have shifted Henshaw back to outside centre had he been fit to face Scotland.
Henshaw’s Test quality in the centres is not in doubt however, and the Athlone-born midfielder was as happy as his employers with his new terms.
“I am delighted to have signed a new three-year contract with the IRFU,” said Henshaw.
“It is an exciting time to be part of Irish Rugby and – having tasted success with both Ireland and Leinster in recent seasons – I am eager to play a role in driving further success at both international and provincial level.”