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Ted Hill: 'You'll see the fight within us'

By Jon Newcombe
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

When Ted Hill was going through some dark times during his injury rehab he kept a journal to chronicle what he was going through. Now he can flick back through those pages and reflect on the “mad” position he now finds himself in.

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Hill and his Bath team-mates are 80 minutes from glory, a win away from becoming league champions. Other than captain Ben Spencer, a five-time winner, none of the starting XV from the semi-final win over Sale Sharks know what it feels like to be holding up the Premiership trophy.

It is a far cry from the start of the season when Hill, starting his full season at The Rec, went down with a hamstring injury that required surgery and five months on the sidelines. Hill missed 15 games but that only made him hungrier when he did return at the end of March.

“One of the things I did throughout my injury was I kept a bit an injury journal documenting how each week went, as something to pass the time,” he revealed.

“You look back on it at times like today and you notice that there were some tough times and difficult periods but the staff here have been so good. Whenever you are worried about something or you don’t feel something is going as well as you hoped they put your mind at ease and help you out massively.

“Whenever you come back from a long term injury I think you realise how lucky you are to be playing and how lucky you are to be training day to day, you don’t want to lose that, so you definitely come back hungry, 100 per cent.”

As a back-rower with electric pace having a hamstring injury is always going to be a concern. But Hill says he is getting more confident by the day that any problems are in the past.

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“I think with the hamstring it is a funny thing, it is always a long-term process. You can be healed and ready to play but you are always going to be working on it and improving it,” said Hill, a try-scorer in last week’s humdinger of a match.

“There is definitely more to come in terms of the finer details of my strength and conditioning and speed aspects of my game. I feel healthy, I feel fit, but as with all these things there is always more you can push on with.

“Being confident in my hamstring took a little bit longer than I expected, but I think I have settled down nicely now and I am finding a bit of rhythm which is really nice.”

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Bath’s progress to Saturday’s final against Northampton has caught a few people unawares – certainly some of the season ticket holders who weren’t afforded a special window of opportunity to book their ticket to Twickenham before they went on general sale – but also Hill’s parents, Vince and Jan.

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“My mum and dad are actually on holiday in Crete at the moment and have had to cut it short,” he said.

“Straight after the semi-final they were on their phones booking their flights back slightly earlier so they’ll be there, as will my girlfriend and brother, and my extended family are coming as well; it’ll be such a great day out. These are the occasions that we play for, we want to do our families proud.”

It begs the question why the Hills chose to book a holiday that ran into the Premiership final weekend?

“They said that! As a family we are not used to being around this part of the competition so there was a bit of lack of forethought but it was easily changed, thankfully. They wouldn’t miss it, they’re excited for it and I think they get back on Friday.”

Other than the Premiership Cup win in 2022, Hill’s former club Worcester were never near any silverware during his time at the club. Ironically, the last time they got close was the year Bath beat them in the final of the 2008 European Challenge Cup, to win their last trophy.

Hill and company will be looking to change that and for players like him and Ollie Lawrence, another of the Sixways squad affected by the Warriors’ demise, it will represent some transformation in fortunes if they pull it off this Saturday.

“Speaking to the guys like Ollie who have come from the same thing as me, it is madness really. To think about where we were and how difficult things were with Worcester towards the end, to now be going to the Premiership final is unfathomable really to be honest with you. It is crazy stuff,” he said.

“We just want to take each moment as it comes and really enjoy the day. I don’t think either of us thought we would be here in two years. But just being around the squad you quickly realise how driven we are and how driven the coaches are, it’s no shock to us that we have made it here.”

Bath players copped some online criticism for the euphoric outpouring of emotion once the final whistle sounded on their semi-final win over Sale, in contrast to the ‘job done’ demeanour of the Saints players after they had come through against Saracens the night before.

But Hill insists that Bath aren’t just happy to be in their first Premiership final since 2015, they are there to win it.

“We are buzzing to be in a final, but you only have to be around this training environment to realise that no one is satisfied to just be in the final,” he insisted, in his calm and collected way.

“I saw a few of those comments and ultimately we will see on the weekend how it works out.

“You’ll see the fight within us that we are not just happy to be in a final, we’ll let the performance speak for itself.”

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Mzilikazi 2 hours ago
Is Ireland versus South Africa a battle for the title of ‘world champions’?

Very good article, Nic, and I find agreement with what you write virtually 100%. I think this two mach series has increasingly become one which will be very difficult for Ireland to win. After the first game of the last 6N, I would have been very full of confidence taking on the Boks in SA. France beaten by a big margin in France, it looked as if Ireland had emerged in fine form from the World Cup, despite the very narrow loss to the AB’s. But after that game, a slide began, ending with the defeat to England. Ireland were very fortunate to win this years 6N ! And as you so fully expose, this has not been a good season for Leinster, or indeed, in my view, for any Irish province. The Leinster loos to the Bulls, and then Munster letting a glorious chance slip to the Glasgow Warriors down at Thomond. Man, that one will really hurt. And both Connacht and Ulster have at times looked very poor this seaso, bith heavily beaten on occassion. The loss of both Gibson Park and Keenan are huge blows, especially Gibson Park. And there is really only one clear class 10 in the touring party, Jack Crowley, and he is still a very young player learning his trade. If he goes down, heaven help Ireland. And in my view, Ireland do not have a good scrummaging front row, SA do, and in great depth too. But despite all this doom and gloom, I always believe my team can win. Not that they will win, just can ! Ireland will still field what is the best and most talented team overall that I have seen in my lifetime. But the coaching group will really have to step up, no awful decisions like the one made against the AB’s in the QF….keeping the totally spent and poorly performing(on the day) Sexton on for the full 80mins, leaving Crowley on the sidelines. Ireland should never have lost that game !

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S
Shaylen 5 hours ago
Is Ireland versus South Africa a battle for the title of ‘world champions’?

Ireland have all the tools required to hurt SA. They develop quick ball, hold onto the ball for long periods, stretch the game when its on, have powerful mobile forwards, a good kicking game and they can hold their own in the scrum. They also can force turnovers regularly and in general do well at the breakdown. When Munster, the Ospreys and Glasgow all won games in SA this year against the Bulls and Stormers they did just that and won. It is also the reason why Ireland won the game at the world cup last year. The problem for Ireland is that SA have all the tools required to hurt them as well and hurt them a great deal more than England did in the Six Nations. They are physical and powerful at the set piece, they rush up and counter the Irish attacking system and they can really attack the breakdown and slow your ball down. Their counterattacking threat is also a big weapon and they score many tries from turnover turning defence into offence in a second. Toulouse and the Bulls nailed Leinster in this way and Glasgow did the same thing to Munster. So the series will be really interesting because both sides are so good at countering each other. Interested to see what kind of surprises Tony Brown springs and how the SA game develops. Feel like SA have more potential to surprise Ireland but then a new coaching set up as well as the fact that Japanese and foreign based players tend to take about 5 to 6 weeks to get up to speed might work in Irelands favour. SA have shipped at least one game in 4 of the last 5 June/July test windows going back to 2018 for this exact reason.

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