Cider-making Exeter lock Jonny Hill aims to become the apple of Eddie Jones’ eye just as soon as rugby is up and running again.
Hill, whose Rib Tickler cider is proving as much of a
smash-hit in Devon as his tackling has been on the field for Chiefs, was an
uncapped tourist in South Africa two years ago but is firmly back on England’s
radar with some Red Rose regulars in need of a rest.
Although this summer’s proposed tour to Japan remains in
doubt, Hill is among those fighting for Test recognition along with Bath
skipper Charlie Ewels, Alex Moon, the heavyweight tyro from Northampton, and
revitalised Saracens’ enforcer Nick Isiekwe.
Hill, 25, told The Rugby Paper: “I want to play at the highest level possible but the second-row quality in this country is probably the deepest in the world right now.
“That said, I do feel there’s a lot more to come from me and that I’m improving all the time.
“I just want to keep focussing on that and the rest will
look after itself.”
Exeter’s bid for a Premiership and Champions Cup ‘double’ is on hold, but Hill adds: “It feels like we’re in a good place and we’ve been working our socks off to win both trophies.
“There’s been a natural freshen-up with guys returning from
Six Nations duty and people like Henry Slade, Luke Cowan-Dickie and Stuart Hogg
add a lot of talent to our squad.”
With Jack Nowell and Dave Dennis fit again and Tomas
Francis, Alex Cuthbert and Jack Yeandle firmly on the comeback trail as well,
Hill said: “You can’t play the same XV every week so having all of those guys
back eventually will be great for us.”
With Hill’s continued excellence driving Exeter on, Chiefs
forwards coach Rob Hunter has no doubts England should be on the phone when
“Should he be looked at by England? Absolutely,” Hunter told TRP. “He’s got all the qualities for that and is a key factor in the pack we’ve put together here.
“He’s a top-class lock and the proof of that is how he performs week-in, week-out with us in a very tough league. He’s playing against and mixing it with the best, is a good defender and ball-carrier – and is doing it against Europe’s best as well.”
Away from rugby, Hill has one eye on the future after
joining a consortium of Chiefs players to make a successful entry into the
He explained: “Myself, Phil Dollman, Sam Skinner and other guys had an opportunity with the RPA to get a business insight with Sandford Orchards, develop our own cider and sell it, with proceeds going to Wooden Spoon and other local charities.
“We’ve raised over £7,000 so far and it’s been a really good
experience. I enjoy developing other skills away from rugby.”
‘Crushed by rugby players’ is the Rib Tickler strapline and
Hill is convinced Chiefs are on course to trample on all-comers from now on.
He added: “There are other clubs talking about winning the
league but I firmly believe that when we’re on our game, no one can touch us.
“The pressure will be on us to deliver on that statement but we’re looking forward to embracing it when the league programme resumes.”
Tagged England, Exeter Chiefs, Jack Nowell, Jonny Hill, Rob Baxter, Stuart Hogg
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