Ireland international Stuart McCloskey has signed a contract extension with Ulster that will keep him at Kingspan Stadium until the summer of 2019.

The province’s player of the year made his debut back in February 2014 in a Pro12 fixture against the Dragons and since then he has amassed 42 caps, scoring eight tries.

The centre has just had his best season to date in an Ulster jersey, with four tries in 23 games and winning man of the match awards in both the Pro12 and European Champions Cup.

The 23-year-old was rewarded with a call up to the Ireland squad for the Six Nations and he made his international debut against England at Twickenham in February.

McCloskey, who still had a year remaining on his previous contract, says he had no hesitation in signing a long-term deal with his home province.

"I grew up here in Ulster and it was always a dream to pull on the jersey,” he noted.

“Despite some strong interest from other clubs, it was a fairly straightforward decision since all of my family and friends are here. The supporters, the facilities that we have and the quality of the coaching were all factors in my decision.

"We are developing strength in depth across the board and that will make us even more competitive next year. It's good for me to have some really strong competition for places in midfield because we push each other to improve.

"We had a disappointing finish to the season but I believe things are promising for the future and I'm excited to be part of that.”

Ulster’s campaign ended last Friday with a comprehensive Pro12 semi-final defeat at the hands of Leinster at the RDS.

Director of Rugby Less Kiss (above) added: "This is fantastic news for the club as Stuart has been one of our standout performers all season.

“A major strength of Stuart's is his gain-line busting runs, which we have used to great effect this season.

"Stuart's appetite to work with the coaches here to accelerate his development has resulted in a well-deserved first cap for Ireland. He is a major asset to Ulster Rugby and will continue to be so for years to come.”