Pro12 side Ospreys have announced that prop forward Dmitri Arhip has signed a new contract with the Welsh region.
The 26-year old Moldovan, who was contracted until the end of next season, has now agreed to extend his stay at the Liberty until 2018.
A popular figure with Ospreys supporters, tighthead Arhip follows on from Jeff Hassler, Tyler Ardron, Justin Tipuric, Joe Bearman, Tom Grabham and Tom Habberfield in committing his future to the region.
He signed for the Ospreys in November 2012, making a big impression as he played nine times for the region in his first season, scoring one try in a 52-19 demolition of the Dragons at the Liberty Stadium.
However, he ruptured an Achilles tendon during pre-season ahead of 2013/14, an injury that that ruled him out of the entire season. He returned to action at the start of the current campaign and has made a huge impact, with 22 appearances so far this season.
“There’s no doubting that Dmitri has been a huge find for us," said Rugby General Manager, Andrew Millward.
"He’s come from Russia, overcome the language barrier, stepped up to professional level, and he’s never been anything less than 100 percent in everything he does. He’s learning every day and he’s played a huge amount of rugby for us this season.
“Last season was very tough for him after he snapped his Achilles in pre-season which meant he missed a year of rugby. Given that setback, he’s done exceptionally well to get to where he is now.
"He’s a versatile player who arrived in Wales primarily as a loose head/hooker, that we’ve converted to a tight head. It’s important we recognise that this is effectively his first full season as a professional rugby player, and his first as a specialist tight head, so he is only going to get better.
“He’s growing all the time in terms of his rugby ability. With his physicality and size, it’s quite a combination. His effort around the field is phenomenal and he is getting better and better at the set-piece all the time. It’s great news for us that Dmitri will be part of our squad for another three years.”
He began his career in his native Moldova with Kishniev Blue Marine from where he moved to Dinamo Bucharest in Romania with whom he won the national title. A move to Russia followed, to play for Yenisey-STM Krasnoyarsk and he helped them to the 2011 Superleague title, finishing runners up in 2012.
“I’m really happy to have a new contract," said Arhip.
"I missed a long time, missed last season with injury, so it’s really good to be playing again. I still have lots to learn but I’m pleased to be with the Ospreys for another three years.
“My family are happy in Swansea, we like living here and I like playing for the Ospreys, so life is very good. If I keep working hard, maybe I can help the Ospreys win the Pro12 which will mean everybody is happy!”