Iain Henderson has signed a contract extension with the IRFU which will see him continue to play his rugby for Ireland and Ulster until at least June 2021.
Iain Henderson played in four games of this season’s Grand Slam-winning run and has amassed 38 caps for Ireland since making his debut against South Africa in November 2012.
The 26-year-old Craigavon-born forward also featured prominently in the 2014 and 2015 Six Nations title successes for Joe Schmidt’s men, playing in both the second row and back tor.
Henderson started all three Tests of Ireland’s 2016 summer tour of South Africa, playing a crucial role in the historic first victory over the Springboks on South African soil but injury ruled him out of Ireland’s famous maiden win over New Zealand in Chicago.
His performances in last year’s Six Nations tournament propelled him to selection for the 2017 British & Irish Lions tour.. He made six appearances for the Lions in New Zealand but was unlucky not to feature in the Test squad following strong performances against the Highlanders, Chiefs and Hurricanes.
Henderson made his debut for Ulster at the age of 21 against Connacht in 2012 and has gone on to make 86 appearances for his native province, scoring seven tries to date.
IRFU Performance Director David Nucifora said: “Iain is developing into a world-class lock and has taken on the responsibility of calling the lineout in some crunch games for Ireland in recent seasons.
“This is just an example of the leadership qualities that he is illustrating for both Ireland and Ulster, and his powerful displays and rugby intellect mark him out as a top class talent that has a huge influence on the game at the highest level.”
Henderson commented: “I am delighted and extremely proud to extend my playing career in Ireland for a further three years. The Irish Rugby set-up is one of the best in world rugby and since turning professional I have been able to develop in an environment that has seen both provincial and national teams being part of some fantastic days and indeed some challenging times over the past seasons.
“I’m extremely confident that with both Ulster and Ireland, we will continue to meet those challenges head on. There is currently some exciting talent throughout Ulster and Irish Rugby and it’s my ambition to continue to push for further honours at both provincial and national levels.
“As a proud Ulsterman, I have always stated my desire to help Ulster secure lasting success and a legacy that mirrors that of our neighbouring provinces. I am extremely thankful to my family, friends and everyone for their support and the commitment by the IRFU with a three-year contract which will allow me to achieve my goals.”