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Olding out for glory after new deal at the Kingspan

By Jonathan Bradley

Ulster have been boosted by the news that promising centre Stuart Olding has committed his future to the province until the summer of 2019.

Still only 22-years-old, he made his senior debut in 2011 and has racked up 39 appearances despite two nightmare years of injuries.

Now back to full fitness and playing a key role over the last number of weeks, Olding is thrilled to be staying at the Kingspan Stadium.

"I'm delighted to be with Ulster for another few years and it's a boost to sign the extension so soon after my return from injury," he said.

"I've been unfortunate with injuries over the past couple of seasons but the medical staff and management team here at Ulster have been outstanding and they have provided me with phenomenal support during some tough times.

"I believe Ulster Rugby is in a really good place at the minute and it's a great organisation to be a part of.

"The set-up here at the Kingspan Stadium is first class in terms of the facilities, the quality of players we have - and indeed those that we have coming in - the staff and the supporters.

"I look forward to contributing to the success of Ulster over the coming months and years."

Les Kiss, who gave Olding the first of his two international caps when taking temporary charge of Ireland in 2013, dubbed the versatile back one of the most naturally gifted players he has ever worked with.

"To have Stuart committing to Ulster Rugby is another huge boost for us," said the Director of Rugby.

"He is one of the most talented players that I have ever worked with and he is a superb asset to this organisation.

"I'm sure that he will have a massive impact for us over the next few seasons."

Operations Director, Bryn Cunningham, was also happy to secure Olding's services on a long-term deal:

He added: "There is an identified group of young indigenous players that we believe will be the fulcrum of Ulster Rugby for many years to come, driving standards both on and off the pitch. Stuart is one of those players.

"To have a player of his immense talent, highlighted in his recent outing against Glasgow, commit for a further three years, is testament to what we are building and what Stuart wants to be a part of."

Olding joins skipper Rory Best, Craig Gilroy and Rob Herring in penning fresh deals this season while marquee names Charles Piutau and Marcell Coetzee will be among the new recruits for the 2016-17 campaign.

Robbie Henshaw, meanwhile, has chosen to leave Connacht for Leinster this summer, on signing his first Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) national contract.

Leinster and the IRFU confirmed Henshaw's long-predicted move to the Dublin province, on a three-year deal to run beyond the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

Henshaw had his pick of Ireland's PRO12 provinces after agreeing the IRFU deal, and has chosen Leinster, despite Connacht's impressive league form.

Henshaw will offer a significant boost to Leinster's ranks next term, on a day when the Dublin province confirmed 17 contract renewals.

Former Munster lock Ian Nagle will join Leinster from London Irish this summer, while a host of squad mainstays have extended their existing deals.

Ireland internationals Jack McGrath, Mike Ross, Rhys Ruddock, Tadhg Furlong and Dave Kearney are among those to have had new terms reconfirmed.

Highly-rated young stars such as Garry Ringrose and Josh van der Flier have also signed new deals.

Henshaw admitted he had wrestled with the decision to leave Connacht.

"I would like to thank Connacht, the IRFU and Leinster for allowing me time," Henshaw said.

"This has been a long and difficult process and while I am sorry to be leaving Connacht I look forward to the next chapter.

"The support I have enjoyed from the fans is something that I really value, and I want to thank them for four great years."

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