Winning a minor title with the Barrs among best sporting memories, says Munster man Holland

Winning a minor title with the Barrs among best sporting memories, says Munster man Holland

Play as many sports as you can for as long as you, former Munster out-half Johnny Holland advises children.

Holland, 28, had to retire due to injury early in the 2016-17 season, having made his breakthrough with the province towards the end of the previous campaign.

Before he joined the Munster academy, Holland played Gaelic football with St Finbarr’s up to minor level, winning a county title.

Now a performance nutritionist with Cork GAA, as well as coaching at Cork Con, Holland likes to see young players delay specialising in a single sport.

Speaking on this week’s Duncan & Duncan Rugby Podcast, Holland said: “I’d be a big fan of playing a lot of sports. Whatever about becoming good at one, enjoy whatever you can.

“Parents shouldn't be deciding, you’re playing rugby and that's it, You should just play everything and see what you naturally go towards. The skills are transferable. .

“I always laugh about Sweets (Munster’s Darren Sweetnam). He can pick up a cricket ball and throw it out of the back of his hand with spin, and he’s never played cricket.

“He played hockey with Ireland, badminton with Ireland, soccer with West Cork, hurling minor in an All-Ireland quarter-final, scoring three points from midfield. And he’s probably decent at rugby as well when you get down to it, whether he knows it or not!

“There are a lot of those guys. The Scannells played football and hurling. Paulie (O’Connell) was a very good swimmer. Paddy Butler played golf. Peter O’Mahony was probably the only one who stubborn enough to pick one sport and go with it."

Holland’s route into the professional rugby came via the club game rather than the schools system. He played his underage rugby at Douglas before joining Cork Con.

Not attending a traditional rugby school hindered some aspects of his development, he admits, but he has no regrets.

“I had a bit of football in me but I was a bit raw in terms of how structured the game is when you go up a level.

“People say you should have gone to a (rugby) school, but I might have got lost in a school.

“It might have worked out, I don’t know, but I don't regret not going to a school and having things maybe work out a bit easier.

“I got to the same place eventually and it was probably a little bit more satisfying. Because you do have a little bit of a chip on your shoulder — not defying the odds, but it’s not the most straightforward route.

“I remember getting to 19 and 20 and the Pres lads were much better at Olympic lifting .

“The Scannells, Niall was a joke, he was very technical. They had done more weights than we had. My weights were done in the Barrs when I was 16, doing lunges.

“They probably had more structure in terms of S&C, but you catch up.

“Being outside of that structured environment might have suited me. Because I had to do a lot of my own stuff.

“I played minor with the Barrs and we won a county. Kind of went out on a high. That would definitely be up there with my best memories in sport. Playing with the guys I grow up with.”

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