Donncha O’Callaghan, who’ll be 32 in March, had no hesitation in signing a new international contract until 2014. It was, the second row said, an “easy” decision given that “as players we are so well looked after by both the national and provincial management teams.”

Munster coach Tony McGahan revealed there was “strong interest… in him from overseas clubs with far greater financial resources than [us]”, while IRFU chief Philip Browne says “In an increasingly aggressive market place with overseas clubs constantly looking to take players out of Ireland, their retention is one of our top priorities.”

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