10 Dec, 12:23
Ireland's John Lacey will referee his first ever RBS 6 Nations match in February, while Alain Rolland is also included in the Elite Panel in what is his last season.
"While there's no doubting that this season so far has presented a huge challenge for him, both in terms of Ireland's disappointment at the World Cup and his brother Simon's illness as well as Ulster's loss of form, he's never shirked any of his responsibilities as a captain, or as a team player and in many ways embodies what playing for the red hand means."
Ireland international Best made his Ulster debut during the 2004/05 season and since then has made a total of 58 appearances for his club. He has been ever-present in the Ireland squad since winning his first cap in November 2005 against the All-Blacks at Lansdowne Road and has held his own in an ongoing battle with Munster's Jerry Flannery for the number 2 jersey.
Educated at Portadown College, Best was awarded the Guinness Ulster Rugby Personality of the Year Award last May and was named Ulster captain at the start of the 2007/08 season, taking over as skipper from his brother Simon.
Ulster Rugby began contractual negotiations at the beginning of November, starting with the current crop of international players and discussions are now well underway.
As the search for a new coach continues, Best's decision to commit to the province for the next two years is just the first of the 2008/09 signings for Ulster Rugby.