Experienced Waratahs hooker Damien Fitzpatrick has signed a one-year extension to stay with the club through to 2020.
Fitzpatrick will go to France on a short-term deal in the coming months before he returns to play Super Rugby in 2020.
The 30-year-old has made the starting no. 2 spot his own since returning to Australia from France, after some injury-riddled seasons.
Since he has been back with NSW, Fitzpatrick has played almost every game for the club and beat out Test player Tolu Latu for that starting hooker spot.
His signature is an important one for the Waratahs, with reports in France that their other regular hooker Latu is set to sign with Stade Francais after the World Cup.
NSW general manager of rugby Tim Rapp said Fitzpatrick was a valuable member of their squad.
“Fitzy has been a really consistent performer for us and his leadership around the group is something I know our coaching staff value highly,” he said.“Throughout his career he’s faced significant challenges and through his hard work, commitment and perseverance has overcome those to become a very accomplished player.
“Early in his career Fitzy had the opportunity to learn from the likes of Adam Freier and Tatafu [Polota-Nau] and also gained great experience from his time overseas.
“We’ve reaped the benefits of that over the last three seasons and I’m glad to have him on board for 2020."
Fitzpatrick said he was looking forward to helping usher in the next generation of Waratahs.
“Playing for the Waratahs is what I truly love doing, so any opportunity to continuing to do what you love and are passionate about is something I’m grateful for,” he said.
“2020 brings a new challenge, one I’m looking forward to contributing to with a new group of players. There is a lot of hard work to be done between now and then, but I’m privileged to be a part of the Waratahs for another Super Rugby season.
“The unknown is exciting. A new look squad under a new coach can bring endless possibilities and I’m looking forward to what lies ahead for the Waratahs.