It may have been a stellar few months for Paul Hill but the tight-head prop is not resting on his laurels, far from it.
In that time Hill went from playing in the Championship last season to a full England international in the 2016 Six Nations, seeing action in the Aviva Premiership and European Rugby Champions Cup in the meantime.
The 21-year-old, who came to Franklin’s Gardens as a junior world champion and Under-20 Six Nations winner, was called into England’s senior squad in January, and although he admits some frustration as to the amount of game time he had he says that the experience was memorable.
“The whole Six Nations was pretty good, training with those top end players and also having weeks coming back to the club,” he says in this week’s podcast. “I really enjoyed it.
“There were some butterflies in the stomach when I got the nod to go on in Rome and to get warming up, but when you’re on the pitch nothing really changes – it’s just a game of rugby.”
Hill is one of several young players to have made their full international debuts during the Grand Slam campaign, with Harlequins bringing another this weekend in the shape of flanker Jack Clifford. With plenty of Under-20 experience under his belt Hill is not surprised that this talent is beginning to come through.
“There is a calibre of player in and around the Under-20s who can make their way up into the first team,” he adds. “In three years we won [the Junior World Championship] twice and came runners-up, and I think those lads will start filtering into the system more and more over the years.”
He may have a full cap and sung his song to the rest of the squad, but Hill is still eager to continue his development with as many minutes on the pitch as possible.
“Once you’ve had that Under-20s development I think it’s more about the adult rugby that brings you on as a player,” he comments. “It’s good playing against lads your own age, but then when you come against internationals in the Aviva Premiership and in the international games it’s the next step up.”