THE IRFU moved to secure the future of another Ireland international beyond the upcoming World Cup when they announced that Ulster wing Andrew Trimble will play with his home province until the end of the 2012-2013 season.
Trimble joins the likes of Ronan O'Gara, Donncha O'Callaghan and Cian Healy, who have all signed new contracts with Ireland in recent weeks.
The winger has made 31 appearances for Ireland, scoring eight tries. He has also made over 100 appearances for his province.
"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," Trimble said.
"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 rugby is firmly focused on that."
Elsewhere, Sale Sharks and England out-half Charlie Hodgson has blasted former Leinster coach Mike Brewer, who was axed as the Manchester side's head coach before Christmas.
"I have been at Sale for a long period of time, and for someone to come in and upset the apple-cart so much, it really got to me," said Hodgson, who has agreed to a move to Saracens at the end of the current season.
"The squad is no different (now) -- it's just a change of mentality. The environment is a much more enjoyable place to be. It's a nice place to come to work.
"Beforehand, a big part of the squad was not happy. The fact that (Sale owner) Brian (Kennedy) has made his decision has uplifted the place."