THE sky is the limit for Skibbereen’s rising rugby star Gavin Coombes – that’s the verdict of West Cork rugby trailblazer Darren Sweetnam.
The Dunmanway man earned three senior Ireland caps in 2017 and 2018, but he’s backing Coombes to sail past that number in the years ahead.
Coombes is enjoying an incredible season for Munster – he’s their top try scorer, breakout start of the campaign and is becoming a key part of Johann Van Graan’s side.
‘I think he’ll push on and the sky is the limit for him. He can rack up as many (Ireland) caps as he wants. It’s very exciting for him and he’s a class act,’ Sweetnam told the Star Sport Podcast.
‘Especially now with CJ Stander retiring that will hopefully give him a few more opportunities at eight.’
Sweetnam joined Munster in 2012 and was with the province up until March when he signed for Ronan O’Gara’s La Rochelle in the French league. While his Munster days are behind him, Sweetnam’s influence has been huge – he opened the door for others in West Cork to follow his path to Munster, and they have, to his delight.
‘It makes me so happy to see so many of my own West Cork lads in and around the squad,’ Sweetnam says.
‘It’s crazy because it happened so fast over the last couple of years. Gavin has taken it to the next level and he will be in an Irish jersey before we know it. John Hodnett has been unlucky with his injury but before that he was absolutely flying it.
‘There has always been talent in West Cork, it was about finding that talent and now they know, they’re obviously going to look more.
‘Now the players coming up through underage will see that there are loads of West Cork players in the Munster squad and they’ll believe that they can do it as well. I reckon we’ll see a lot more West Cork fellas come up through the ranks.
‘I can’t wait to see what Gavin, John, both Wycherley brothers, all do.
‘I’m a very proud West Cork man.’