The Munster trio of Dan Goggin, John Hodnett and James French, along with the Ulster quartet of Marcus Rea, Craig Gilroy, Greg Jones and Jack McGrath, have all signed new contracts.
Goggin (27) and French (23) have each signed two-year deals to keep them at Munster until June 2024 while Hodnett, who was contracted to 2023, has signed a one-year extension to remain with the province until at least the same juncture. All three are products of the Munster academy.
It is a testimony of faith and a reward for some fine performances of late for the 23-year-old Hodnett, who missed virtually all of last season with an Achilles injury. After a couple of AIL outings with UCC, he was fast-tracked back into the team after Munster’s disruptive trip to South Africa to make his Champions Cup debut against Wasps in December (as was French) and has featured in all four of their Heineken Champions Cup games this season.
A product of Clonakilty RFC and a Grand Slam winner with the Ireland U20s in 2019, Hodnett is quick, good over the ball, and with that Munster dog in him is now beginning to realise his potential.
The four Ulster players have all signed new one-year deals, meaning the 30-year-old Gilroy has every chance of surpassing Andrew Trimble’s record haul of 76 tries for Ulster.
Gilroy, who has the unusual distinction of scoring a hat-trick on his tenth and last Test appearance in Rome five years ago before being dropped, has scored 68 tries so far in his Ulster career after recently playing his 200th game for the province.
The experienced McGrath joined Ulster in 2019 and has recently returned from a serious hip injury after a 13 month absence. A part of Ireland’s Six Nations title successes in 2014, 2015 and 2018, he won the last of his 56 caps for Ireland against England in August 2019. McGrath also played in all three Tests on the 2017 British and Irish Lions Tour of New Zealand.
Rea (24) and Jones (26) are both products of the Ulster academy, the latter having joined the province from UCD in 2017. Jones has had a key role in match-day squads throughout this season, notably in his try-scoring performance in the victory over Leinster at the RDS.