O'Mahony commits to Munster
Flanker Peter O'Mahony is the latest Ireland star to reject a move to France after signing a new three-year contract with Munster.
The 25-year-old club captain has committed to Thomond Park until June 2018, in a clear boost to the Irish province and Ireland boss Joe Schmidt.
Toulouse and a host of French Top 14 clubs were understood to have monitored O'Mahony's situation, but the talismanic back-rower has opted instead to stick to his roots.
O'Mahony's new deal to stay with his home province is also a decisive strike from Munster, who had been left reeling after losing promising fly-half JJ Hanrahan to Northampton Saints for next season.
Leinster stars Jamie Heaslip and Sean O'Brien rejected the lures of Toulon last season, with Munster scrum-half Conor Murray also turning his back on French interest.
British and Irish Lions fly-half Johnny Sexton will return to Leinster from Racing Metro this summer - and now O'Mahony's new deal effectively secures all Ireland's frontline talent on home soil ahead of the World Cup.
Sexton's return has already bolstered head coach Joe Schmidt's preparations for the autumn World Cup in England and confirmation of O'Mahony's new deal is another shot in the arm.
Title-holders Ireland host England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1 in a potential RBS 6 Nations decider, with both teams unbeaten and Schmidt's side chasing a record-equalling 10th consecutive victory.
O'Mahony has developed into a mainstay for both Munster and Ireland, cementing himself as the front-runner as the Test team's next captain as and when Paul O'Connell should retire.
The 27-cap flanker is regarded as one of the country's most important stars by Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) bosses.
"Peter's performances for Ireland over the past few seasons have been exceptional," said IRFU performance director David Nucifora.
"The esteem in which he is held by Irish rugby is reflected in the fact that at the age of just 25 he has already captained his country and province.
"Leadership is just one of the many qualities he brings to Munster and Ireland and we are delighted that he has committed to Irish Rugby."
Munster have been struck by criticism in the past for failing to push enough top talent through their academy system, but view O'Mahony as the jewel in the home-grown crown.
Academy graduate fly-half Hanrahan shocked the province by spurning a new deal earlier this year to join Northampton for next term, but O'Mahony's continued presence offers vital stability.
"We are delighted that Peter has signed an IRFU contract which sees him remain with Munster up to the end of the 2018 season," said Munster chief executive Garrett Fitzgerald.
"Peter, a product of our academy system, is hugely competitive and highly ambitious. He leads by example on and off the field and is a perfect role model for all aspiring young players."
O'Mahony said the privilege of leading his home club proved central to his decision to sign his new deal.
"Munster is my home province, the team I've grown up supporting and am honoured to both represent and captain," said O'Mahony.
"I look forward to working hard with my team mates, coaching staff and management to achieve continued success for both Munster and Ireland in the years ahead."