Jacko two-year contract extension music to Ulster ears
Paddy Jackson has turned away from the lure of greater financial reward to sign a two-year contract extension with Ulster.
It wasn't that long ago that the Ireland out-half was the subject of serious interest from Northampton Saints.
"It was no surprise that there was a lot of interest in him from other big European clubs," said Director of Rugby Les Kiss. "It was far from a straightforward process but Bryn (Cunningham, Operations Director) has done a marvellous job in negotiating the terms of the contract.
"I'm really pleased with the solution that we have in place."
There was little doubt, however, that Jackson's heart was set on staying in Belfast.
The ongoing uncertainty over Jonathan Sexton's fitness makes Jackson a live option to take Ireland forward in the next five years.
"I'm delighted to be staying on at Ulster Rugby for at least another two years," said Jackson.
"I hope to continue to grow as a player and contribute to this team in a positive way.
"I believe that the pillars for success are in place here at Ulster with a quality squad and management team.
"I am hugely excited by the challenges that lie ahead and I'd like to thank everyone who has helped me to this point in my career."
Connacht's Cian Kelleher has had his season all but ended over from a Grade-3 hamstring tear that occurred last week. The back-three man was about to return from injury when suffering the setback at training.
Coach Pat Lam will also have to consider his options at openside flanker given how Jake Heenan (ankle) and Nepia Fox-Matamua (knee) are both out.
The more worrying injury is to Fox-Matamua, who is being reviewed by a surgeon to determine the best course of action.
New Zealander Heenan, Matt Healy (thigh) and South African Marnitz Boshoff (shoulder) are expected to return against Glasgow Warriors later this month.