He is highly unlikely to feature in Europe's top tournament until the knockout stages
Munster scrumhalf Conor Murray has committed his future to the province on the day that he was all but ruled out of the remainder of the European Cup pool stages.
The British and Irish Lions tourist had been heavily linked with a move to France but has instead decided to stay at Thomond Park for a further two seasons.
Murray has signed a contract extension with Munster and the Irish Rugby Football Union that will see him remain in Cork and Limerick until at least the summer of 2016 as he quashed rumours of a proposed switch to French giants Toulouse next term.
He is highly unlikely to feature in Europe's top tournament until the knockout stages, though, after it was confirmed that medial ligament damage to his right knee would see him sidelined for six weeks.
"I am thrilled to sign a new IRFU contract and to continue playing my rugby with Munster," said Murray, who came through the Academy ranks with the 2006 and 2008 European Cup winners and is on the verge of his 50th first-team appearance for the province.
"In 2013 I learned a lot as a player with my club, Ireland and the Lions and I hope to continue to develop and push for honours over the coming years."
Murray was a key man when Munster made it through to the European Cup semifinals last season and he has since started all three games this term as his side bounced back from an early defeat at Edinburgh with home wins over Gloucester and Perpignan.
In fact, the 24-year-old has been in the starting side for every European Cup game over the past two-and-a-half seasons, taking his European tally to 20 since his debut in the 2011 Challenge Cup quarterfinals.
He won't be involved in Saturday's reverse clash with Perpignan or the Round Five trip to Gloucester, while returning for the final pool encounter at home to Edinburgh also looks a long shot, however, after he limped out of Round Three with just 17 minutes on the clock.
But while the fact that he has had his participation in this year's pool stages cut cruelly short is a major blow, Murray's decision to remain in Munster will give everyone at the province a significant long-term lift according to head coach Rob Penney.
"We are delighted that Conor has signed a new IRFU contract which will secure him to Munster until the end of the 2016 season. Conor has illustrated in recent months the value he brings to not only Munster but to the national team as well," said Penney.
"At 24 he is still a young guy and he has the potential to go on to become one of the best scrumhalves in the game."