Johnny Sexton has become the latest high profile Ireland international to commit his future beyond the World Cup after he signed a new contract with Leinster and the IRFU until 2021.
he World Rugby player of the year will now target a third tour with the Lions to South Africa as a realistic goal after deciding to continue his career.
Unlike other centrally funded deals, the release for Sexton's new contract did not include the information that deal is wholly funded by the IRFU.
He will remain one of the union's top earners with a salary worth more than €500,000 a season plus bonuses and commercial tie-ins.
"Johnny's hunger and drive mark him out as a truly world class competitor," IRFU performance director David Nucifora said in a statement. "He sets a performance benchmark for those around him and is investing in the development of young out-halves in the Ireland squad while also seeking improvement in his own performance.
"He is a model professional and has been at the centre of a lot of the success enjoyed by Irish Rugby over the past few years."
Meanwhile, Noel Reid could leave Leinster at the end of this season, with Leicester Tigers keen on the long-serving centre's services.
The Dubliner, who won one cap for Ireland against Argentina in 2014, is expected to start against Bath at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday in Robbie Henshaw's absence, but knows that he is down the pecking order when everyone is fit for the European champions.
Reid made his first senior appearance for the province in 2011 and has played 107 times for the first team.
Tigers, have a long history of recruiting from Leinster with Dominic Ryan the last player to make the move.
Now 28, Reid's versatility, passing game and senior experience make him attractive option for Geordan Murphy's side.
Another Leinster midfielder on the move in Tom Daly who is is set to join Connacht on loan until the end of the season.
The Carlow man has endured a torrid time with injuries in recent years and has fallen down the pecking order at his home province, playing twice off the bench this season.
The Westerners have a long list of backline injuries and coach Andy Friend has identified the 25-year-old as an immediate solution and the IRFU are understood to have approved the inter-provincial switch which could be confirmed early next week.
Leinster's Champions Cup opponents Bath have been hit with a fresh injury blow with news England winger Joe Cockanasinga has been ruled out until the New Year and will miss Saturday's visit to the Aviva Stadium.
Zach Mercer is touch and go for the weekend according to director of rugby Todd Blackadder, while Freddie Burns will again miss out.
Leinster remain second in Pool 1 after three games but know that a bonus-point win over the English side will put them in a good position for the remaining fixtures against leaders Toulouse and Wasps after Christmas.
After overcoming a tricky task at Bath, Tadhg Furlong is keen to see improvements this weekend with the contact area a particular focus.
"I think there's definitely more in us. There's always areas for improvement in our game. We're a small bit disappointed with how we played at the weekend," the tighthead prop said.
"It's a mixture of everything isn't it? They'd good line speed, the ball was greasy, there was a heavy wind. It was very hard to get into how we wanted to play.
"To make it worse, we probably didn't win the collisions and that's rugby really isn't it?"
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