The Waratahs have signed hooker Tolu Latu to a long-term deal, keeping him in NSW until the end of 2018.
Latu debuted for the Waratahs last year and loomed as an important signing for the club, with veteran Tatafu Polota-Nau in the twilight of his career.
The 22-year-old debuted for the Waratahs in 2014 after a premiership-winning 2013 Shute Shield season with Sydney Uni.
Tongan-born Latu said he was excited about the side's future, under new coach Daryl Gibson.
“I’m really happy to be able to stay here with the Waratahs, it’s an exciting time to be at the club,” Latu said.
“It will be great to play under Daryl as Head Coach, and I’m really looking forward to working with him and Cam Blades in the coming seasons.
“I’ve had a great start to my career with NSW, so it makes sense for me to continue on with my progress as a professional player here.”
Waratahs forwards coach Cam Blades said Latu’s promising future made him an important retention priority for the team.
“He is certainly one of the best young forwards in the country, and has shown a lot of improvement in his technical skills over the past few seasons,” Blades said.
“I’m really impressed with how he works and we will undoubtedly see some more great football from him over the next three seasons.”
Gibson said Latu's competition with Polota-Nau for starting spots had increased the side's depth.
“The competition he has developed with Tatafu for a starting position is exactly what we’re after within the squad, making sure that everyone is earning the right to play each game and bringing the best out in each other," he said.
“He’s really taken every opportunity that was presented to him, and shown how hungry he is for success.”