The ACT Brumbies have pulled off a major retention coup with Noah Lolesio committing to the club for the 2024 Super Rugby season.
The star flyhalf had an option in his favour for next year and a number of cashed up rivals were circling in a bid to lure him abroad.
Brumbies officials met with Lolesio at the start of the week following Saturday's semi-final defeat to the Waikato Chiefs.
The conversations were positive and the flyhalf confirmed he has knocked back overseas clubs to remain in Canberra.
The 23-year-old has starred for the club at Super Rugby level, however has endured a tough time in the Test arena.
Former Wallabies coach Dave Rennie repeatedly failed to throw his full support behind the youngster and Lolesio's confidence waned as a result.
ACT coach Stephen Larkham took the youngster under his wing at the start of the season and was determined to mentor the emerging talent.
The hard work paid off, with Lolesio producing a number of impressive performances and leading the Brumbies to the semi-final.
ACT general manager Chris Thomson was pleased to confirm the flyhalf's decision to remain in Canberra.
"It's fantastic news that Noah will remain in Australia, with Rugby Australia and the Brumbies," Thomson said.
"It says something about Noah and he's still got a drive to play for the Wallabies. He's remained in Australia because he wants to compete, it's a credit to him."
MORE CANBERRA SPORT NEWS:
Lolesio flirted with the decision to move to Japan last season before ultimately opting so stay and sign a two-year contract.
Among the key factors in his decision were a desire to play under Larkham and make the Wallabies No.10 jersey his own.
Lolesio looks unlikely to feature when Eddie Jones names his first Australian squad on Sunday - Quade Cooper, Bernard Foley and Carter Gordon with the inside running in the race for World Cup spots.
The flyhalf revelled in the personal battle throughout the year, especially when the Brumbies played the Rebels in Melbourne. While he may not play for the Wallabies in 2023, Larkham has repeatedly stressed his belief the ACT No.10 belongs in the Test arena.
The prospect of Lolesio departing Canberra loomed over the Brumbies all season, particularly after he was not selected in the Wallabies' training squad in April.
Thomson, however, was always confident the flyhalf would remain in the ACT.
"I wasn't overly concerned actually," he said. "I do think Noah wants to wear that Wallabies jersey. Working with Steve will give him the best opportunity to do that. He's a competitor."
With Lolesio locked in, Brumbies officials will turn their focus to completing a full review of the 2023 season and commence planning for 2024.
Among the first decisions to be made is hiring a replacement for outgoing scrum coach Dan Palmer.
With veteran assistant Laurie Fisher also leaving the Brumbies, Thomson and Larkham are aware they have to get Palmers' replacement right to maintain the club's high standards.
Former ACT and Australia captain Ben Mowen will join the club as Fisher's replacement, with officials considering a number of domestic and overseas-based candidates to fill the void left by Palmer.
"We pride ourselves on our ability to run an elite program which creates Wallabies and a successful team," Thomson said. "We want to ensure the right person allows us to achieve that.
"Credit to Laurie and Dan and the contribution they've had over the long time they've been involved with the organisation.
"We're going through the process and looking at a wide variety of coaches. We're just seeing how and who fits best within our coaching group."
We've made it a whole lot easier for you to have your say. Our new comment platform requires only one log-in to access articles and to join the discussion on The Canberra Times website. Find out how to register so you can enjoy civil, friendly and engaging discussions. See our moderation policy here.