Ireland have been handed a major boost ahead of Saturday's Six Nations clash against Italy, as Iain Henderson has signed a two-year contract extension.
Henderson is the first of Ireland's key players to be tied down to a new deal after he agreed terms with the IRFU.
A raft of fellow Ireland internationals such as Johnny Sexton, Keith Earls and Tadhg Furlong are expected to follow suit in the coming weeks.
Henderson captained Ireland for the first time in the recent defeat to France and has become a key player in recent years.
Having taken over the Ulster captaincy from Rory Best in 2019, Henderson has grown into a real leader and has won 60 caps for his country.
"It has been a great honour to captain both Ulster and Ireland in recent times," the 29-year old said.
"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."
IRFU Performance Director David Nucifora 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."