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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.

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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.”

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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.

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“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.

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“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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finn 4 hours ago
Why the world needs a reverse Lions tour

I think there’s a lot of reasons this wouldn’t work, but if we’re just proposing fun things how about a “World Series” held the june/july following a world cup. The teams competing each four years would be: the current world champions The Pacific Islands The British & Irish Lions The World XV Barbarians FC to ensure all teams are fairly evenly matched, the current world champions would name their squad first; then The Pacific Islands would name next, and would be able to select any pacific qualified players not selected by the world champions, including players already “captured” by non-pacific nations who would otherwise have been eligible for selection (eg. Bundee Aki); the Lions would select next; and then The World XV and Barbarians FC would be left to fight over anyone not selected. Some people will point out that 5 teams is too many for a mid-year round robin, particularly as it would be nice to have a final as well; and they would be right! But because we’re just having fun here we’re going to innovate an entirely new format for rugby, where the round robin is played in one stadium over the course of one day, with each game lasting just 40 minutes with no half time or change of ends. The round robin decides the seedings for the knockouts, which are contested by all 5 teams in one stadium over the course of one day, according to the following schedule: Knockout Round 1: seed 5 v seed 4 (contested over 1 half of indetermined length, finishing when one team reaches 7 points) ~ 10 minute break ~ Quarter Final: winner of Round 1 v seed 3 (contested over 1 half of indetermined length, finishing when one team reaches 7 points) ~ 10 minute break ~ Semi Final: winner of Quarter Final v seed 2 (contested over 1 half of indetermined length, finishing when one team reaches 7 points) ~ 10 minute break ~ Final: winner of Semi Final v seed 1 (played as a standard 80 minute rugby match) for the round robin, teams would name a 15 man starting lineup and a 16 man bench. Substitutions during games can only be made for injuries, but any number of substitutions can be made between games. The same rules apply for the finals, except that we return to having a regular 8 man bench, and would allow substitutions as normal during the 80 minute final.

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S
Simon 7 hours ago
Is the Six Nations balance of power shifting?

There are a few issues with the article. Despite somehow getting to a RWC semi final, England are nowhere near Probable status and should be swapped with Scotland on current form. France’s failure at RWC 23 has massively hit their mindset. Psychologically, they need a reset of gigantic proportions otherwise they will revert to, Top 14 first, international rugby an afterthought again. Ireland are allowed to play the way they are by less than acceptable officiating. Make no bones about it, with Easterby coaching, Ireland cheat, they break the rules at almost every facet of the game and generally referees, influenced by the media that Ireland are somehow playing the best rugby in the world, allow them. Scrums - Porter never pushes straight and immediately turns in. The flankers lose their binds and almost latch on to the opposition props. Rucks - they always and I mean always clear out from the side and take players out beyond the ball, effectively taking them out of being ready for the next phase. Not once do green shirts enter rucks from the rear foot. Referees should be made to look at the video of the game against Wales and see that Irish backs and forwards happily enter rucks from the side to effect a clearout, thus giving them the sub 3 second ruck speed everybody dreams about. They also stand in offside positions at rucks to ‘block’ opposing players from making clear tackles allowing the ball carrier to break the gainline almost every time. They then turn and are always ahead of play and therefore enter subsequent rucks illegally. Mauls - there is always a blocker between the ball catcher and the opposition. It is subtle but it is there. Gatland still needs to break the shackles and allow his team a bit more freedom to play rugby. He no longer has a team of 16 stone plus players who batter the gainline. He has to adapt and be more thoughtful in attack. Scotland are playing well but they have the creaky defence that leaks tries.

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