Hill relishing return to England fold

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Northampton Saints prop Paul Hill hopes to carry his recent club form from the end of the season into the England set-up this summer.

The 23-year-old prop won his first Test cap under Eddie Jones during the 2016 Six Nations Grand Slam win, and later that summer was part of the side that secured a series whitewash in Australia, the last of his five caps so far.

A mixture of selection and form meant the front-row forward spent spells out of Saints' starting XV, but after a mixed season personally, he is now looking forward to testing himself against some of the best players in the country.

“I came in a couple of years ago and I thought I had a really good year for club and country," said Hill.

“There were a mixture of things. First of all I wasn’t getting the game time at Northampton and Eddie said to me ‘I can’t pick you if you’re not playing enough.’

“It has been a bit on and off in terms of performances and game time and now I’ve had this block at the end of the season where I’ve started playing a bit more rugby and Saints have played better, I think that’s one of the reasons I’m back in the fold.

“You’re picked on performance and as long as I can keep up the momentum I’ve had at the back end of this season, things might be going better for me carrying on to next year as well.”

In the frame

Hill began his rugby at Yorkshire club Otley and has had stints at Darlington Mowden Park and Yokrshire Carnegie before his 2015 move to Northampton.

He is a product of the England pathway system having represented his country from Under 16 to Under 20 level, and says conversations with the England coaching staff gave him hope he would always return to the international fold.

“I wouldn’t call it regular contact but I’ve been contacted as the year has gone on,” he added.

“They’re very honest about that and I’ve always had good contact with them, they’re always talking about what I need to be doing on and off the pitch to become a better player.

“It’s massive to build your confidence and know that although things might not be going perfectly there’s a watchful eye always there.”