WHEN John Hodnett injured his Achilles tendon during a Munster training session in mid-November, he instantly knew he was in trouble.
The Rosscarbery man’s gut instinct was proved right because that injury, which needed surgery, ended his season.
‘I knew straightaway it was bad,’ says the 22-year-old who was just building up some momentum when the injury struck. He had played in three of Munster’s previous four PRO14 games, including starts against Cardiff Blues and Dragons.
‘It was definitely disappointing when it happened. I was really enjoying playing but it ended so quickly then. But there is no point dwelling on it, injuries happen to everyone so I’m trying to make the best of it and my focus now is to improve other parts of my game.’
The good news is Hodnett’s rehab is on course and earlier this month his mood was helped when he signed a two-year senior deal with Munster to earn promotion from the Academy.
‘That was great news to get. I’m really happy to sign on for another two years,’ he says.
‘Especially with my injury at the moment, it gives me a bit more breathing room to get over that and focus on getting back as best I can.
‘The rehab is going really well. It is a slower injury to get over so it will be another few months before I am back, but I am happy with how it’s going at the moment.
‘The aim now is to get back playing comfortably and to get back to where I was before I got injured.’
Hodnett has turned heads at Munster. The talented back row burst on the scene with a man-of-the-match debut performance against the Southern Kings in the PRO14 last season, and he built on that promise with strong showings earlier this campaign before he got injured. The former Clonakilty RFC player also starred for the Ireland U20s team that won the Grand Slam in 2019.
Rugby and Munster’s gain is Gaelic football’s loss, as Hodnett had lined out with Carbery Rangers before he switched his attention to the oval ball. He juggled football with Ross and rugby with Clonakilty RFC until he decided to focus on rugby, but those years spent with Ross footballers have stood to him on the rugby pitch.
‘Co-ordination is a big thing and playing as many sports as you can will have helped that,’ Hodnett explains.
‘Catching, passing, looking for space, they are all similar in both games. Getting your head up and scanning, all those little things help when you’re playing both sports.’
It’s no surprise that given he comes from a football stronghold, Hodnett remains a fan.
‘I love it, I still do, I try my best to keep up with everything. I’d love to still be playing but obviously I can’t. I probably want to play again at some point in my life,’ he says.
But for now Munster rugby is Hodnett’s main focus, getting back on the pitch next season and reminding us all just how good he is.