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'On the lash' pictures and texts have made Jonny Hill a hit at Sale

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Sale have hailed the immediate impact that new signing Jonny Hill has made in his short time so far at the Manchester-based Gallagher Premiership club. Having been away on tour in Australia, it was mid-August when the England international lock first checked in with his new team, joining them for their week-long pre-season in Ireland.


Having since completed his mandatory rest period following his England exploits versus the Wallabies, Hill made his Sale debut in the September 17 win at Bath and he followed that with another 80-minute appearance last Saturday versus his old club Exeter.

With that, he headed off to London to partake in this week’s three-day England training camp but he still had Sale business on his mind travelling down, reviewing lineout clips from their game against the Chiefs and making recommendations ahead of this Saturday’s trip to Leicester.

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It was last May when Sale director of rugby Alex Sanderson revealed to RugbyPass that he was already building a rapport with Hill who at the time was still at Exeter trying to regain his fitness following a lengthy layoff since the start of the year.

“I get the odd text on Saturday night at two o’clock in the morning, I seriously do which is nice,” revealed Sanderson five months ago about the second row who decided last December that he would swap Exeter for Sale for the 2022/23 club campaign. “There is a degree of a psychological safety net already where he can text me pissed. That is perhaps the best way to gauge someone’s excitement. I know he is buzzing about coming up.”


Those late-night texts haven’t stopped now that Hill has arrived in Manchester, the 28-year-old quickly impressing the Sale DoR with his willingness to embrace the organisation of the lineout and to swiftly blend in with the squad. Asked how Hill had fitted in since his arrival, Sanderson said: “I’m off to watch Morrissey later so like Hand in Glove I would say. I couldn’t believe how quickly he assimilated himself with the team.

“He has got a good mate in Tom Curry, a really good mate, but he did all the work behind the scenes in terms of the lineout calling and not once did he interject in a meeting, he just sat there and watched and observed. He is quite quiet-natured in his approach and in his ability to influence. He is not a shouter. He is very composed and calm and that in itself lends itself to him being accepted because he has not come in talking about the world according to Jonny Hill.


“He has come in the back door and as such, they have really accepted him. And then there is his talent. They have all got respect for him for how hard he works and how athletic he is. He is well and truly part of the furniture, he is part of the package and those two lads [Hill and Tom O’Flaherty, another summer signing from Exeter] are two of the best socialites I have happened to meet in the game.

“Like even before they signed they were sending me pictures and texts of them out on the lash which they do now just to piss me off. So every time they go out they send me texts at two in the morning. That in itself helps to break down barriers. There is a psychological safety there with me, so I am sure he has got that with the lads.”

Regarding the lineout calling at Sale, is this a new responsibility for Hill or had he been doing it elsewhere before he checked in two months ago? “Yes, he was getting into it as Exeter, he was doing it in England and he is our chief caller although it is a group thing, it is never really one person.

“Lood (de Jager, who exited in the summer) used to do it like that, he wanted the reins and wanted to be the man and that is fine but my own understanding is you should have a little syndicate really, four or five and there could be young lads in that who talk on a Sunday, look over the clips, send emails, meet on Monday morning and then you finalise that lineout by 10am.


“Jonny facilitates that going into each and every week as he was this week on his way down to England. He was watching clips in Tom Curry’s car and sending comments through.”


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