Toby Faletau extends Newport Gwent Dragons stay to June 2016
Number eight Toby Faletau has agreed a new contract to keep him at the Newport Gwent Dragons until June 2016.
The Wales and British and Irish Lions forward's decision to sign a two-year contract extension at Rodney Parade is a major boost for Welsh rugby.
Faletau played in the Lions' 41-16 victory over Australia in the third Test in Sydney.
"I'm pleased to have committed to the Dragons so early in the season," said Faletau, 22.
“There was fierce competition for Toby's services but by securing Toby's future here at Rodney Parade it clearly shows our ambition as a board of directors and as a business to further develop the Dragons brand” Martyn Hazell NG Dragons chairman
"This will help me to concentrate on my on-field performance and the challenges ahead this season. With the reputation of Lyn [Jones, London Welsh coach] and Kingsley [Jones, assistant coach] preceding them, I'm looking forward to working with them and developing further as a player.
"It's clear the Dragons are taking steps to develop the Region and its team, with a number of new signings both on and off the field."
Tongan-born Faletau was out of contract at the end of the 2013-14 season.
His decision to stay in Wales bucks the growing trend of Welsh players leaving for big-money contracts offered by French and English clubs and the chance of regular Heineken Cup rugby.
Dragons' Chairman Martyn Hazell says the Welsh region had to fight off other clubs to keep Faletau in Wales.
"There was fierce competition for Toby's services, but by securing Toby's future here at Rodney Parade it clearly shows our ambition as a board of directors and as a business to further develop the Dragons brand," said Hazell.
"Toby is important to growing our business on and off the field and shows our commitment to becoming the best Region in Wales."
The 26-times capped international has been a Wales regular since the 2011 World Cup.
He was not picked for the Lions first two Tests against the Wallabies, but produced an impressive performance in the third and final Test with the Wallabies to seal the series.
Faletau was part of the Wales side which reached the semi-finals of the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand, win the Six Nations Grand Slam in 2012 and the Six Nations title in 2013.
His performances for the Dragons in the back row alongside fellow home-grown talent Dan Lydiate, who has left for Racing Metro in Paris this season, has been the highlight of a difficult few years for the Men of Gwent.
The Dragons finished one off the bottom of the RaboDirect PRO12, a poor campaign that led to management changes, with former Ospreys and London Welsh coach Lyn Jones now in charge, and seven new signings for the new season.
"Toby has made a good decision early on in the season, putting an end to all the speculation surrounding his future," said Jones.
"Throughout discussions with Toby I have been extremely impressed with his drive and motivation, not only on a personal level but in his commitment to developing the Dragons into the best team in Wales.
"I'm looking forward to working with Toby, helping him to be the best he can be, not only for the Dragons but for Wales."