Versatile Ulsterman nailed down his place in the Irish second row in recent times

Iain Henderson became the third Grand Slam hero to seal a new deal with the IRFU following Ireland's exploits at Twickenham last Saturday.

The versatile forward has signed a contract extension that will see him play his rugby with Ireland and Ulster until at least June 2021.

"I am delighted and extremely proud to extend my playing career in Ireland for a further three years," commented Henderson. "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."

The 26-year-old played in four games of this season’s Grand Slam Natwest 6 Nations Championship success and has amassed 38 caps for Ireland since his debut against South Africa in November 2012. He also featured prominently in the 2014 and 2015 6 Nations Championship successes.

Henderson started all three Tests of Ireland 2016 Summer Tour of South Africa playing a crucial role in the historic first victory over the Springbok on South African soil but injury ruled him out of Ireland’s famous victory over New Zealand in Chicago. His performances in last year’s 6 Nations Championships propelled him to selection for the 2017 British & Irish Lions tour.

"I am 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 is my ambition to continue to push for further honours at both provincial and national levels."

The lock, who can also play in the back row, made his debut for Ulster at the age of 21 against Connacht in 2012 and has gone on to make 86 appearances for his province scoring 7 tries.

"As a proud Ulster man, 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 3 year contract which will allow me to achieve my goals."

IRFU Performance Director David Nucifora was keen to highlight Henderson's influential role within the Irish team.

"Iain is developing into a world class lock and has taken on the responsibility of calling the line-out 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 joins Ulster team-mate and Ireland captain Rory Best and Leinster and Ireland full back Rob Kearney in committing his future to Irish rugby.