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Hill enjoying Saints start

Travis PerkinsSponsored by Travis Perkins

The tight-head prop joined the club from Yorkshire Carnegie, his first club, but says the switch and challenge facing him at the Saints has been a huge positive so far.

“I’ve settled in really well,” he told SaintsTV. “I’m really enjoying getting to know the lads and they’ve been really welcoming. It’s been a good few weeks of pre-season.

“The move was about taking the next step in my rugby career and pushing myself as much as I can in a harsher environment.

“It’s been a massive change in intensity. The lads around you are always driving standards and that’s been one of the most positive things for me. I’m really happy so far.”

Still only 20, Hill is accustomed to being a relative youngster. His Championship debut with Yorkshire came at the age of 18 and having started early with England Under-20, the prop appeared at two Junior World Championships, including the victorious campaign of 2014.

It’s the kind of experience that has helped shape a player seemingly ready for the next step up he alludes to.

“It’s always tough as a young player coming up in any sport, but I think the main thing [in the Championship] was the physicality. That has really toughened me up and it’s something that teaches you to use your other strengths to stay on top of your opposite number.

“With England, it’s a bit different – it’s a lot faster. Bearing in mind everyone is still young, fitness levels and the pace of the game are something I’ve not really experienced anywhere.”

That combination makes Hill a player who’s as comfortable running at a backline as he is with his head in a set-piece (see try v France U18 below, 00:20!).

“Scrums are a massive part of the game and always will be,” he added. “They have to be first in a tight-head prop’s mind. At the end of the day though, you’re not just a prop – you’re a rugby player – so I do try and get myself involved as much as I can and get my hands on the ball.”