Heaslip commits to Leinster
Jamie Heaslip (Getty Images)
London - Jamie Heaslip became the latest Ireland international to turn down a potentially lucrative move to France when he signed a new central contract on Thursday.
The back-row followed the likes of Ireland captain Paul O'Connell and Test back Keith Earls, who signed new deals earlier this week, in opting to continue his club career with an Irish province.
Heaslip had been a target for French rivals Toulon and Montpellier but his decision to sign a new three-year contract that will keep him at Leinster leaves fly-half Jonathan Sexton (Racing Metro) as the only leading Ireland international at a Top 14 club.
Careful management of players' workloads, as well as attractive financial terms, by the Irish Rugby Football Union has been a key factor in their ability to retain top players for domestic rugby -- a situation in marked contrast to Wales where, in the absence of a central contract system, there has been an exodus of star players to France.
And the 30-year-old Heaslip was happy to pen a new deal that means he is likely to see out his professional career at his home side.
"Leinster is where I wanted to continue playing and I am happy that the process is now at end," said Heaslip.
"I am looking forward to playing my role in driving success for both Leinster and Ireland," added Heaslip, who has scored 34 tries in 176 appearances for Leinster since a debut in 2005, going on to win three European Cup titles with the province.
At Test level, Heaslip has won 60 caps, become a British and Irish Lion and was also a member of Ireland's 2009 Grand Slam winning side.
"We are delighted that Jamie has committed his future to Leinster and Ireland for the next three years," said IRFU chief executive Philip Browne.
"He has been one of most consistent performers and top number eights in world rugby for many years and has played a starring role for Leinster, Ireland and the Lions."