Ruan Pienaar and Paul Marshall sign new Ulster contracts
Ulster scrum-halves Ruan Pienaar and Paul Marshall have signed new contracts with the Ravenhill club.
World Cup winner Pienaar, who has 51 caps for South Africa, is in his second season with the province while Marshall has been a squad member for six years.
The news will be a boost to Brian McLaughlin's men as they prepare to take on Leicester in Friday's crucial Heineken Cup clash in Belfast.
The fresh contracts will keep the duo with Ulster until June 2014.
"We have been negotiating to retain Ruan since the summer," said Ulster's rugby director David Humphreys.
"He has been instrumental in the team's success since joining us in 2010.
"Paul took his opportunity at the start of the season when Ruan was at the World Cup and has really impressed with his performances.
"Last week he was involved in three of the four tries we scored against Edinburgh."
Ulster raised eyebrows with the big-name signing of Pienaar in 2010 and the move paid off as the South African proved to be a matchwinner on a number of occasions.
Pienaar's immediate impact was recognised when he was chosen as the Magners League Players' Player of the Year.
Ireland A international Marshall came through the ranks at Ulster, making his senior debut in 2006.
The 26-year-old impressed during a prolonged spell in the team this season when Pienaar was unavailable because of international duties and injury.
Former Natal Sharks star Pienaar said: "I have made some good friends here and have really enjoyed the rugby side.
"The people of Belfast have welcomed myself and my family with open arms, so it was an easy decision in the end."