MUNSTER Rugby has moved fast to tie down three of its rising West Cork stars with new deals.
Gavin Coombes’ terrific form for Munster this season has been rewarded with a two-year extension that will see him remain with the province until at least June 2023.
There was more good news locally when both Rosscarbery man John Hodnett and Bandon’s James French were both promoted to the senior squad for the 2021/2022 season and have signed their first senior deals, having impressed in the Munster Academy.
It’s Betsboro beast Gavin Coombes who will dominate the headlines after penning a new two-year deal with Munster. The 23-year-old product of Skibbereen RFC has been the province’s standout player this season and has racked up an impressive eight tries in 14 appearances, including a try-scoring Champions Cup debut against Harlequins in December. The highly-rated back-row forward was recently called up to the Ireland senior squad for training.
Meanwhile, John Hodnett (22) has been tied down on a two-year deal with Munster and he is also highly-regarded within the province. Currently, he is out of action with a season-ending Achilles injury but Hodnett had caught the eye early in the season against Edinburgh, Cardiff and Dragons. In his PRO14 debut in February 2020, back-row forward Hodnett was named man of the match. Having come through the ranks at Clonakilty RFC he is in his second year with the Greencore Munster Rugby Academy, having joined in the summer of 2019.
There was further great news when Bandon’s James French, currently in his third year with the Munster Academy, was handed a one-year deal and promoted to the senior squad for next season. Like Hodnett, he is also injured at the moment, having suffered a hamstring injury against Ulster A in December. The loosehead prop has represented Munster at U18s, U19s and U20s level, and has played for Ireland at U19 and U20 levels.
These deals come just a few weeks after Skibbereen’s Liam Coombes put pen to paper on a new one-year deal.