Rory Best has signed a new two-year contract with the IRFU, which will see him remain with Ulster until June 2016.
Commenting, 31-year-old Best said: “I am pleased to have signed for a further two years. It is a massive honour to play for Ireland and Ulster.
“The support that I received when I missed out on the initial Lions squad was a massive factor in me making the decision to stay.
“That made me feel very special and underlined to me that Ulster is more than a team, it is a community and a rugby family.
"I want to keep playing for Ireland for as long as I can and to try and win a few more things in the green jersey.”
Best made his senior debut for Ulster against Munster in November 2004 and has represented his province 143 times, scoring 12 tries, while he won his first cap for Ireland against New Zealand in November 2005.
The hooker has made 70 appearances for his country and has scored eight international tries, the most recent of which came in the narrow defeat to the All Blacks in the Guinness Series.
Best was a late call up to the British & Irish Lions tour of Australia in the summer and captained the tourists against the ACT Brumbies.
"I want to keep playing for Ireland for as long as I can" - Rory Best
IRFU CEO, Philip Browne said: “Rory has been a great servant to Irish rugby over the past 10 years for both Ireland and Ulster. We are delighted to secure his future in Ireland for the next two years.”
Meanwhile Ulster’s Director of Rugby, David Humphreys, underlined the importance of Best to Ulster saying: “Rory Best is the cornerstone of the Ulster Rugby team and leads by example.
“You would struggle to find anyone who is more committed on the rugby field, nor someone who is more passionate about playing for his Province.
"He has represented Ulster for the best part of a decade now and he has achieved some of the highest honours that the game has to offer.
“He will be a key player in our team as we continue to build and improve in the coming years and I am delighted that he has signed this new contract.”