Ireland flanker Sean O'Brien agrees to stay with Leinster

Ireland flanker Sean O'Brien has decided to stay on with three-times Heineken Cup winners Leinster.

O'Brien, who was part of the Lions squad that toured Australia last year, had been linked with a move to France.

Newspaper reports suggested the 26-year-old was on the verge of joining European champions Toulon.

However, on Thursday the Irish Rugby Football Union announced that O'Brien had signed a new two-year contract with Leinster.

O'Brien is likely to miss Ireland's Six Nations campaign as he is recovering after an operation on a shoulder injury.

However, his decision to stay with Leinster is good news for the IRFU, which has been working hard to keep its best players under central contracts after fly-half Jonny Sexton's high-profile move to Racing Metro last summer.

Munster's Conor Murray and Donnacha Ryan signed new IRFU contracts last month.

Leinster number eight Jamie Heaslip, who is out of contract at the end of the season and has also been linked with a move to Toulon, has yet to agree a new deal.

O'Brien said that he had made the decision to remain at home "based on the standard mix of professional and personal considerations".

"It was a very difficult decision but with a World Cup next year and the fact that I believe Leinster can continue to win trophies, I have decided to commit my immediate future to the club," said the Carlow man.

"(And) I am very excited about what Ireland can achieve under Joe Schmidt."