Earls extends Munster deal
Keith Earls (Getty Images)
London - Munster's Keith Earls became the latest Ireland international to avoid the lure of foreign club rugby by signing a new contract with Munster on Tuesday.
The 26-year-old back, who has scored 12 tries in 39 tests since his Ireland debut in 2008, has signed a new central contract with the Irish Rugby Football Union that will see him stay at Munster until at least 2016.
A versatile performer, who can play on the wing or in the centres, Earls is reported to have rejected offers from clubs in both England and France to remain loyal to Munster.
"I'm delighted to sign a new IRFU contract and to continue representing my province," Earls said.
"This Munster team has shown it has what it takes to compete with the best in Europe and I look forward to playing my role in bringing further success to both Munster and Ireland."
IRFU chief executive Philip Browne added: "Keith is a proven finisher and has shown guile and determination throughout his rugby career for both Munster and Ireland."
Earls's decision follows the IRFU's success in persuading fellow internationals such as Paul O'Connell and Sean O'Brien to continue their careers in Ireland, although Test fly-half Jonathan Sexton did join Paris-based Racing Metro at the start of this season.
And it is understood that Ireland back-row Jamie Heaslip, whose contract is up at the end of the current campaign, remains a target for one of France's leading Top 14 clubs.
However, Ireland have largely been successful in ensuring their best players continue to remain with home clubs.
It is a situation in marked contrast to that in Wales where, without an established central contract system, the likes of Mike Phillips, Jamie Roberts and Dan Lydiate have all opted for club careers in France, with more Welsh players set to follow in their footsteps.