THE IRFU HAVE confirmed that Jamie Heaslip has signed a new contract until the end of the 2019 World Cup.

The 33-year-old had stated that he would consider all options with his previous contract due to finish this summer, but it is little surprise to see the number eight extend his deal.

Heaslip was outstanding against Italy last weekend. Source: Inpho/Billy Stickland

The IRFU say Heaslip’s new contract is wholly funded by the union, after the back row’s previous deal had been topped up by private investment.

Heaslip is vice-captain of Joe Schmidt’s Ireland team and remains one of the first names on the team sheet. He captained Ireland last weekend against Italy in the absence of regular skipper Rory Best.

The Leinster back row has won 93 caps for Ireland so far in his career, and will join Brian O’Driscoll, Paul O’Connell, Ronan O’Gara, John Hayes and Rory Best in the centurion’s club in the coming seasons.

“I’m delighted to be given the opportunity to continue to represent Leinster and Ireland,” said Heaslip.

“My aim when I started my professional rugby career was to leave the jersey – either the blue of Leinster or the green of Ireland – in a better place than when I first put  it on and this new contract gives me the chance to continue to chase this dream.

“As with each and every professional rugby player, we don’t do this alone and so I would like to thank my wife Sheena for supporting me always and all the coaches, fellow rugby players and supporters who have helped me live my boyhood dream – of going to work daily with a rugby ball in my hand.”

IRFU performance director David Nucifora welcomed the official confirmation of Heaslip’s new deal.

“Jamie continues to illustrate why he is one of the top performers in international rugby,” said Nucifora. “He is a leader for both his country and province and delivers a high level of performance every time he pulls on the green or blue jersey.”

Heaslip helped Ireland to beat the All Blacks in 2016. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Meanwhile, Leinster CEO Mick Dawson expressed his pleasure that the number eight will play on with his native province.

“Jamie has been a crucial part of Leinster and Irish rugby for the last decade and I am delighted that he has committed his long term future to the club,” said Dawson.

“As a captain, as a vice-captain, as a player, he sets the standard for others to follow and he is an inspiration to the younger players coming through the sub-academy and academy at Leinster.

“Since his debut for the club nearly 12 years ago he has been a central figure and we look forward to further success with Jamie in the blue of Leinster and the green of Ireland.”

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