Saints prop Hill not thinking about adding to his highlights reel

Paul Hill smiles when he’s reminded of the last time he took on Worcester Warriors.

By Tom Vickers
Friday, 22nd October 2021, 7:00 am
Paul Hill was in fine form against Worcester in March
Paul Hill was in fine form against Worcester in March

And he has every reason to, given his showing at Sixways back in March became something of a highlights reel.

Hill belied his tighthead prop status as he delivered a display that earned him the nickname ‘Sonny Bill Hill’, a reference to skilful New Zealand centre Sonny Bill Williams.

Saints put the Warriors to the sword in that most recent meeting, running riot in a 62-14 demolition.

And more of the same will be expected after Worcester started the season by shipping a whopping 180 points in their opening five games of the Gallagher Premiership campaign.

But Hill’s focus is far from running eye-catching lines and sidestepping full-backs, as he did on that memorable March day at Sixways.

He knows he has to get his basics right after falling foul of the referee during the defeat to Wasps at the CBS Arena last time out.

“I judge my form week by week and that Wasps game was a massive disappointment for myself,” said Hill, who conceded four penalties in the Coventry clash.

“We came in at half-time and we weren’t clicking with the ref (Craig Maxwell-Keys) whatsoever.

“We then went out in the second half and repeated the same mistakes.

“It was frustrating but we’ve picked up the learnings from that and we’re going to put it right this week.”

And though Hill would love to repeat his Sixways heroics this week, he is more focused on putting the foundations of his personal performance in place.

“I think that was a one-off - I wouldn’t expect that every weekend!” he said, smiling.

“It was about 10 games ago now and I’ve done absolutely nothing since.

“I’m always looking for it and hopefully someone will put me through but I’ve got to do my main job, which is scrum and hit rucks.”

Hill knows there will be plenty of expectation on Saints’ shoulders against a Worcester side who have lost four of their five games this season, shipping plenty of tries in the process.

But he said: “We’ve got Friday night at home and you can’t beat it.

“It’s a game we’ve got to come flying into.

“We’re off the back of a disappointing result so we’re going in all guns blazing, but so are they.

“They’ve had a couple of really tough games and we’re expecting them to come in all guns blazing also.

“We’ve got to meet them and we should be expecting ourselves to win this game.”

While Worcester are wounded after losing 48-3 at home to Leicester Tigers last weekend, Saints are also far from happy with their own form.

They may have taken 14 points from four matches so far, but it is widely acknowledged that they have not come close to realising their potential in the formative stages of the campaign.

Hill said: “We’ve talked about it in terms of being able to put games away and we’re three from four, which you wouldn’t feel is disappointing but the way we’ve been clicking in training, we feel there’s a lot more to come from us in terms of on-field performances.

“I’ve listened to all that Boydy (Saints boss Chris Boyd) has said after the games and I do agree with him that we’ve definitely got more in the tank.

“Some teams are absolutely flying this year and if you want to be pushing those top four positions in such a competitive season, you’ve got to be more clinical in games.

“Wasps was one of those where we lost the game more than they won it because we gave them absolutely everything.

“We can’t afford to do that so the pressure is on us to put a bit more heat on and get the best out of ourselves.”

Saints had last weekend off as it was one of their two bye weeks in the Premiership this season.

And the players enjoyed some welcome rest and relaxation before returning to training on Monday.

“I went to Margate for a few days,” Hill said. “I’d never been down there and didn’t know anyone there but I went down there with the family for a few days and it was really nice.

“It’s always good to get away and there was absolutely no exercise done whatsoever.

“It was about putting your feet up and enjoying it.

“We spoke after the game at Wasps and we didn’t leave that lingering in the air.

“You’ve got to be a professional about it.

“We’ve all got access to the game on an app so we immediately pick up our learnings from that and then you’ve got to be able to switch off if you can.

“The second you’re back in, you’ve got to learn as a team and fix stuff up.”