On the eve of Ireland’s RBS 6Nations Leinster have secured their own Triple Crown by re-signing three of their biggest stars
Brian O’Driscoll, Jamie Heaslip and Jonathan Sexton have all resisted the lure of moves abroad to pen new deals with the Irish Rugby Football Union to stay with Leinster in the Magners League.
The news is a major boost to Joe Schmidt’s men who are aiming to go one better than last season where they lost to the Ospreys in the Magners League Grand Final.
Leinster currently lie in and next face Aironi rugby on February, 10.
“Being of genuine Leinster stock it’s great to have three such pivotal players join with a number of other players who have recently extended their contracts, reaffirming that loyalty amongst Irish players can still outweigh lucrative overseas offers,” added a delighted Leinster coach Joe Schmidt.
But keeping Leinster’s holy trinity on Emerald Isle has come at a cost – reputedly a combined annual salary of 1.2m Euros.
O’Driscoll has signed a one-year extension which will see him remain in Ireland until the end of the 2012-13 season while Heaslip's three-year deal and Sexton's two-year deal see the pair remain until June 2014.
"We haven't busted our budget," declared IRFU chief executive Philip Browne. "We know that the market is buoyant and players have to explore their options. They have done that but we have managed to get their signatures."
Ireland kick-off their championship campaign in Rome tomorrow with both O’Driscoll and Sexton in the starting XV. But Ireland will be without Heaslip, who is currently sidelined.