Stuart Hogg became the highest-paid player in Scottish rugby history on Wednesday after signing a bumper £375,000-a-year deal to stay at Glasgow Warriors.
And the news could not have been better time for the club as they prepare to kick off their European Champions Cup campaign against Leicester Tigers at Scotstoun on Friday night.
The Scotland full back will earn a record three-quarters of a million pounds under the terms of the new two-year contract extension that runs until May 2019.
Stuart Hogg has signed a bumper new deal with Glasgow worth £375,000-a-year
More money was being offered by big spenders like Toulon, Toulouse and Bordeaux but, in a major boost for both club and country, he turned them all down.
With his wife Gillian expecting their second child and their son Archie less than a year old, Hogg was unwilling to have his domestic life disrupted by a move to France – while remaining in Bearsden will allow him to travel back and forth to Hawick to visit his relatives.
And the 24-year-old, who was the Player of the Tournament at this year’s Six Nations, revealed that family have always come first when it comes to making decisions about his future.
Hogg, who will start for Gregor Townsend’s side against Leicester on Friday, said: ‘Glasgow Warriors is such a big part of my life and I love this club.
‘I’ve played for the Warriors for five years and it was an easy decision to sign for another two seasons.
‘My wife enjoys living here and, with a young boy and another baby on the way, there is nowhere else I’d rather be.
‘There is still a lot of rugby to be played this season and then next season I’m looking forward to working with Dave Rennie when he takes over.
‘It means a lot to me that the club and Scottish Rugby want me to stay and I’m very happy that I’m going to be continuing my career in Scotland.’
Scotland full-back Hogg’s new two-year contract extension will run until May 2019
Scotland and Glasgow fans will be delighted that the SRU have pushed the boat out for the attack-minded Hogg, whose youthful promise saw him become the youngest member of Warren Gatland’s British and Irish Lions squad who toured Australia back in 2013.
Should he remain injury-free this season, there remains every chance he will go on his second Lions tour to New Zealand next summer when he will surely play a more prominent role under the same coach.
His decision to stay is a major filip for Glasgow, however, as they seek to give head coach Gregor Townsend the perfect send-off before he replaces Vern Cotter as Scotland head coach.
The aim this campaign is to win the Guinness Pro12 title for the second time and to make the knockout stages of Europe’s blue-riband tournament for the first time in their history, albeit they have a tough qualification group including Leicester, Racing 92 and Munster.
Having the dynamic Hogg on board and settled can only help them in their pursuit.
His decision to stay will also be warmly welcomed by incoming New Zealander Rennie, who takes over the helm from Townsend in time for the start of next season.
Primarily a full-back, but also comfortable at centre and stand-off, former Hawick High School pupil Hogg is a product of the famous Hawick and Hawick Wanderers clubs.
From there he joined the Scottish Rugby Elite Development Programme at the age of 17, making his debut for Glasgow in 2011.
Hogg makes a scything break through Ireland’s defence at the Aviva Stadium in March
Since then he has played for the Warriors 87 times.
It hasn’t been all plain sailing for Hogg, however, and he was dropped from the squad who lost the Pro12 final to Leinster in Dublin in 2014 after holding signing talks with Ulster behind Townsend’s back.
Both sides managed to put the controversy behind them and, the following year, Hogg was part of the Glasgow team who made history by beating Munster to lift the Pro12 league title for the first time.
At international level, he has played 45 times for Scotland, scoring 11 tries, and has become one of the dark blues’ most high-profile players.
Townsend, reacting to the Hogg announcement yesterday, said: ‘This is excellent news for Glasgow Warriors and Scottish Rugby.
‘Stuart works extremely hard in training every day to improve himself and he gets real joy from playing the game.
‘He is entering the best years of his career, as he is in great physical shape and he has become one of our most experienced players.
Hogg was the youngest member of Warren Gatland’s Lions squad to Australia back in 2013
‘The fact he wants to continue to play his rugby in Scotland is a massive boost for the development of the club and it’s exciting for our supporters.
‘I firmly believe that we can compete with the best teams in Europe and having Stuart on board for another two seasons will certainly help.’
Scottish Rugby have certainly pushed the boat out to keep one of their most valuable assets, and chief executive Mark Dodson said he would continue to try and secure the signature of the best Scotland players despite expecting further big offers from wealthier French and English clubs.
‘It is our intention to keep as many of our best players in Scotland as we can and, despite the sharply increased costs of professional rugby, we are delighted to have secured Stuart for the next two seasons,’ said Dodson.
‘This signing illustrates our commitment to Glasgow Warriors and demonstrates to the fans that we want to repay their fantastic support, and the club means business.’