Ulster have been boosted by the news that Andrew Trimble will be with the province until at least 2017 after agreeing a new two-year deal with the IRFU and Ulster Rugby.
The Ulster winger, now 30, has been out of action since November with a toe injury and is not expected to make a return to action until the summer.
Nevertheless, the news of a new contract for Trimble is a welcome lift as he continues his rehabilitation from injury and ramps up his efforts to be fit for the World Cup.
Trimble was named 2014 RWI Player of the Year after playing a starring role in the successful RBS 6 Nations Championship campaign and for his contribution in Ulster's march to last season's Pro12 semi-final.
"I am delighted to have signed with Ulster for a further two years," the players said.
"I hope to be back playing soon and will be aiming to put myself in the frame for selection for Ulster and Ireland over the coming months.
"2015 will be an exciting year at both provincial and national level and I hope to play a role in the coming years in the continuing success of Irish rugby."
Ulster team manager Bryn Cunningham welcomed the news and said: "Andrew is a crowd favourite at the Kingspan Stadium and a proven international performer, having won a multitude of awards last season.
"It is a huge boost to Ulster Rugby that Andrew has committed to the province for a further two years. He is an important leader within our squad and we look forward to him returning to action in the coming months."