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Jonny Hill the latest England player poised for Top 14 move – report

By Liam Heagney
Jonny Hill in action with England last August (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Sale lock Jonny Hill has become the latest England player linked with a 2024/25 switch to the Top 14. It was just last Friday when the Test sabbatical-taking Owen Farrell was said to be “very close” to taking up a two-year deal at Racing 92.

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It has now emerged that Hill, the second row who was a first-choice favourite under Eddie Jones but missed out on the Rugby World Cup squad under Steve Borthwick, is being courted by Lyon.

The 29-year-old exited Exeter in the summer of 2022 and with his two-year deal ar Sale now set to expire, French media have reported he is expected to sign for Lyon.

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A rugbyrama.fr report read: “Struggling in the Top 14, nevertheless Lyon remain active on the transfer market. England second row Jonny Hill (29; 20 caps) is expected to sign for next season. Also in the pack, Exeter’s No8 Rusi Tuima (23) could also arrive.

“After their heavy defeat away to Toulouse, Lyon are currently 13th in the Top 14 and therefore in a (relegation) play-off position. A delicate situation that does not prevent the Rhone club from being active on the transfer market.

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“According to information published this Sunday in Le Progres and which we are able to confirm, Sale’s English international second row Jonny Hill (2.02m, 122kg) should sign for next season with Lyon. Selected by Steve Borthwick in the extended England group, Hill was finally not selected for the World Cup in France.

“His arrival would allow Lyon to acquire an experienced player with a strong tonnage to replace the French international Romain Taofifenua, who is leaving for Racing. In addition in the second row, Lyon are looking hard to fill the upcoming departure of Joel Kpoku, who will join Pau at the end of the season.

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“The trail leading to the young player of Fijian origin, Rusi Tuima (23 years old, 1.95 m, 125 kg), who plays for Exeter, seems to be holding the line.”

The news about Hill potentially exiting Manchester emerged on the back of Sale boss Alex Sanderson last week addressing speculation that Cobus Wiese was the second row potentially set to exit the AJ Bell, with the Sharks linked with the recruitment of Charlie Ewels from Bath.

“We are always looking to strengthen the gene pool. Charlie is a great player so he is someone we are interested in amongst others,” said Sanderson at the time. “You have got to keep trying to add to it. Hence why I admitted talking to Charlie because you cannot afford to stand still.

“For us the most part is retention and that brings its own difficulties. You have still got to add to your core group by way of players with x-factor who you can improve your squad.”

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On Wiese, Sanderson added: “It’s a scenario that we are familiar with and not an uncommon one for us unfortunately. It seems to a degree the nature of a lot of our South Africans who haven’t made Manchester their second home, who have young families and ageing parents.

“It’s a very similar rhetoric to what we have faced over the last three years. There are not a lot of players like Cobus but there are a few. I need to keep my powder dry in terms of keeping a lid on the other players we are looking at.”

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