Andrew Trimble has handed Ulster a major boost on the eve of their Heineken Cup showdown with Biarritz Olympique by committing his future to the province.
The Ireland wing has put pen to paper on a new IRFU contract that will see him remain at Ravenhill until 2013.
Trimble had been linked with big-money moves abroad but he has put an end to the speculation by signing the new deal.
"Ulster and Irish rugby are going from strength to strength and my decision to stay in Ireland was to make sure I was part of that," said Trimble.
"We have some big games coming up, so I am really happy that I was able to agree my new contract before we went into the busy period.
"As well as the challenges we have in the Heineken Cup and Magners League coming up, I was conscious that I also wanted to concentrate on playing as well as possible here with Ulster so I can challenge for a place with Ireland ahead of the Six Nations and the World Cup this year.
"Our game this weekend against Biarritz is my first priority and everybody in Ulster is firmly focused on that."
The 26-year-old's decision was welcomed by Ireland coach Declan Kidney who was pleased to secure the future of another of his international stars.
"It is great news that the IRFU and Andrew have come to an agreement that allows him to continue his playing career in Ireland with Ulster. It is important for both the provinces and Ireland to keep as many of our top players playing here."
As part of the build-up to next month's Cardiff 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals weekend, ERC has joined forces with the WRU, Cardiff Blues and adidas to develop an annual grassroots community rugby programme targeting young players.
The Ulster Rugby full back, Jared Payne (No 15), has been suspended for two (2) weeks following an independent Disciplinary Hearing in Dublin arising from the Heineken Cup quarter-final match against Saracens at Ravenhill Stadium on Saturday, 5 April.