Ulster have landed a major coup with Ireland back row star Stephen Ferris signing a new three-year deal to keep him at Ravenhill until 2011.
Ferris, who has recently returned from the Irish tour to New Zealand and Australia, where he earned his fifth international cap for Ireland, still had a year to run on his current contract.
But with big spenders like Neath/Swansea Opsreys circling like vultures, Ulster have moved swifly to prevent a scenario like this season when top-flight players like Tommy Bowe were snapped up after reaching the last year of their contracts.
"I'm pleased to commit the next three years of my life to playing for Ulster, it means everything to me to don that white shirt, and it's a real honour to be part of the team," said Ferris.
"I'm only 22 and hope to play for Ulster for a long time to come; I really couldn't see myself playing anywhere else. There is such a fantastic group of lads in the squad and now that it is quite a young squad, we are going to build up a winning team together.
"Matt Williams has made great changes since taking over and his style of coaching suits me, he makes me want to push myself harder and harder to play well and I know I'll work hard for him. I also have to say that David Humphreys being involved in the management was a big sway for me."