PETER O'MAHONY has turned his back on interest from France in favour of a central IRFU contract that will keep him with Munster until the end of the 2014/2015 season.
The Cork native, who made his debut for his home province in 2010, was a target for two Top 14 sides, but was always keen to remain in Ireland. O'Mahony will be hoping to celebrate his new contract with a victory in Cardiff on Saturday in what is only his second Six Nations start.
The versatile back-row forward has been named at blindside flanker in a very strong and young Ireland side.
O'Mahony is particularly delighted that he will remain at Munster, a side he captained at the beginning of last season.
"It has been a really enjoyable journey so far for me. The last two seasons, in particular, have been exciting, from breaking into the Munster team and captaining the side and then earning my first cap for Ireland," said O'Mahony.
"I'm thoroughly enjoying my rugby at the moment and feel there is much more that we can achieve with Munster and Ireland over the next couple of years and I wanted very much to be a part of that."
News of O'Mahony's decision to commit to Ireland for at least another two years will come as a boost for the IRFU, after it was confirmed Jonathan Sexton would be playing in France from next season.
It is also a particularly exciting development for Munster as they have also recently tied Simon Zebo to a three-year contract, although why Zebo wasn't also signed to a central IRFU contract is questionable.
Munster coach Rob Penney is particularly excited that he has two players he will be building his team around on the books for the foreseeable future.
"Peter represents the new breed of player, the next generation if you like, that are so critical to Irish rugby," said Penney.
"To have him committing to the Munster organisation is a huge validation of what we are trying to achieve here.
"It is a particularly encouraging that a young man of such ability and talent has the belief that his ambition is best served by the structures that we have in place here.
"It's great for Munster and for Ireland too."
O'Mahony's international career has seen him captain Ireland at both schools and U-20s level, culminating in him winning his first full international cap against Italy in last year's Nations Championship.
He will win his ninth Ireland cap on Saturday against the Welsh.