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Tractor-driving Hodnett looking to take his game up a gear with Munster

The Rosscarbery man has bounced back well this season after a year out of the game through injury.

Hodnett turned 23 in January.
Hodnett turned 23 in January.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Updated Mar 25th 2022, 12:16 PM

JOHN HODNETT produced a fair few highlights on the pitch during Munster’s trip to South Africa but he was busy off it too.

Footage of the 23-year-old Rosscarbery man up on a tractor in Pretoria showed that he hasn’t forgotten his West Cork roots.

“I actually have one like that at home, it’s just a bit smaller,” says Hodnett, who starts for Munster against Benetton this evening at Musgrave Park in Cork [KO 7.35pm, TG4/Premier Sports/ URC TV].

“I originally just wanted it to send a video to my dad because I know he would love seeing something like that but a few of the lads put it on their stories on Instagram so it kinda went from there.

“I just asked one of the groundskeepers if I could have a go off it!”

Hodnett’s father is a carpenter rather than a farmer but the Munster flanker explains that they do have a bit of land in West Cork:

“We have a small bit. A ‘small-holder’ as he likes to call it!”

Hodnett spent some time working with his father on the carpentry during the original lockdown a few years ago but his rugby career keeps him well-occupied these days.

JH Hodnett on a tractor in South Africa. Source: Munster Rugby

The former Clonakilty RFC man has been impressive for Munster this season, making 13 appearances after recovering from almost a year out of the game due to an Achilles tendon rupture.

“It was tough, I was impatient for a game,” says Hodnett of that time. “So I did miss playing rugby and now I’m probably not taking it for granted anymore, enjoying it a bit more, just being out on the pitch playing. That was the biggest thing I took from it.”

Hodnett has very much picked up where he left off before that injury. He was a key part of the Ireland U20s team that won a Grand Slam back in 2019 and was named player of the match on his senior Munster debut in February 2020. 

He is one of several West Cork stars in the current Munster squad and Hodnett takes some pride from representing the area.

“It’s massive, it’s nice getting to play with fellas from West Cork, especially someone like Josh [Wycherley].

“At Cadets, U15s, he was there as well so I’ve known him since we were 14 or 15. I’ve played with him all the way up and any of the West Cork fellas, I knew all of them growing up as well. It’s class having fellas from home playing.

“We wanted to play for Munster but when you’re that young, there’s so long to go that it’s hard to think that far forward. We got here in the end, it’s really nice to look back on.”

john-hodnett The West Cork man has impressed in the back row for Munster. Source: Tom Maher/INPHO

Hodnett turned 23 in January and is now keen to drive his game on to the next level. He has made his first two Champions Cup starts earlier this season, standing out in the away win against Wasps in December, and will be targeting more European involvement.

His breakdown work, tackling, work-rate, and carrying are key strengths and now Hodnett is looking to round out his game.

“Just small little things, defending off lineouts and scrums, just little small things that would sharpen me up a bit more.”

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He starts in the number seven shirt against Benetton this evening at ‘Muzzer,’  where Hodnett made his senior Munster debut against the Kings just over two years ago.

“That’s actually the last game we had there before Covid, so I can’t wait to get back and play in Cork. Even the Ireland U20s there the last few weeks, there was some turnout support-wise so there must be some buzz there now.

“I remember myself when I was playing U20s, the support there was unreal. It definitely gives you a lift so I can’t wait to go back down on a Friday night. Hopefully there will be a bit of a turnout.” 

Munster:

  • 15. Matt Gallagher
  • 14. Shane Daly
  • 13. Damian de Allende
  • 12. Rory Scannell
  • 11. Simon Zebo
  • 10. Ben Healy
  • 9. Craig Casey
  • 1. Josh Wycherley
  • 2. Diarmuid Barron
  • 3. Stephen Archer
  • 4. Jean Kleyn
  • 5. Fineen Wycherley
  • 6. Jack O’Donoghue (captain)
  • 7. John Hodnett
  • 8. Gavin Coombes

Replacements:

  • 16. Scott Buckley
  • 17. Jeremy Loughman
  • 18. Keynan Knox
  • 19. Jason Jenkins
  • 20. Jack O’Sullivan
  • 21. Neil Cronin
  • 22. Jake Flannery
  • 23. Chris Farrell

Benetton:

  • 15. Andries Coetzee
  • 14. Ratuva Tavuyara
  • 13. Joaquin Riera
  • 12. Tommaso Menoncello
  • 11. Rhyno Smith
  • 10. Tomas Albornoz
  • 9. Dewaldt Duvenage (captain)
  • 1. Ivan Nemer
  • 2. Tomas Baravalle
  • 3. Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro
  • 4. Irnè Herbst
  • 5. Carl Wegner
  • 6. Sebastian Negri
  • 7. Manuel Zuliani
  • 8. Toa Halafihi

Replacements:

  • 16. Matteo Drudi
  • 17. Federico Zani
  • 18. Simone Ferrari
  • 19. Niccolò Cannone
  • 20. Matteo Meggiato
  • 21. Callum Braley
  • 22. Giacomo Da Re
  • 23. Tommaso Benvenuti

Referee: Craig Evans [WRU].

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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