When Northampton Saints director of rugby Chris Boyd was asked who makes him laugh the most at the Club, his answer was clear; Paul Hill.
“At least I’m in the good books,” laughs Hill.
The 25-year-old tighthead prop is adept at dealing with difficult situations, with his upbeat personality making him a hugely popular figure at Franklin’s Gardens.
During the first lockdown last year, Hill entertained the Club’s supporters and staff with a series of online quizzes to keep spirits high, but the England international has turned his hand in recent weeks to putting smiles on the faces while on the field.
Last time out against Wasps, he produced one of his most influential performances for Saints – starring in not one, but two shifts after his replacement Owen Franks was forced off with concussion.
Rather than this turn of events putting Northampton’s scrum on the back foot, Hill not only came back on but played a huge part in earning some late scrum penalties that deprived Wasps of the possession they needed to complete a second-half comeback.
He said: “Fortunately enough, it was a short enough time that I was still ready to go back on. I appreciated a little bit of a break and I think I caught my second wind.
“Anything over 60 minutes is always difficult for a tighthead but it went all right and I genuinely consider myself fit compared to most tightheads and I managed to eke out those final 15 minutes.”Paul Hill
“We were happy to walk away with points in the league but performance wise, there was something lacking.
“But you’d much rather have it that you walk away with a win and some work-ons rather than feeling you played great and taking no points, so it’s good in that aspect.”
As he is so adept in the loose, Hill’s tight work often gets overlooked, he insists his scrummaging is something he continues to work extremely hard on.
“It’s a constant aspect and it is what a tighthead’s job is to do: to sort the scrum out,” he said.
“This year we’ve had a really good mentality and we don’t want to be sitting ducks.
“It’s that old attack-is-the-best-form-of-defence so in any situation if you’re the one who’s always being aggressive, you sometimes risk being on the wrong side of the ref, but you always want to be the one who is pressuring the opposition.
“Last weekend against Wasps, it all just came together. I’ve had a good run and it’s just about doing it week in, week out.”