Paul Hill is the perfect embodiment of everything that is good about Yorkshire Carnegie’s academy – the sad thing is the club are about to lose him.
The 20-year-old prop is a well-mannered young Yorkshireman, who is one of the best front-row prospects in the land.
Born in Germany and raised in Doncaster after moving with his family when just an infant, Hill helped England win the Under-20s Six Nations title last month. He has also been one of the emerging stars of Carnegie’s troubled campaign, his cameo off the bench in last Sunday’s win over Jersey being his 15th appearance of the season and 17th of his career.
But it is his efforts for England Under-20s that have drawn rave reviews, with the 17st-stone prop expected to sign for Premiership leaders Northampton in the summer. Not that Hill – who started at Doncaster Juniors before joining Carnegie’s RFU academy aged 14 – is ready to admit that just yet.
“I’m playing it game by game and just enjoying the season and hopefully we can get into that top four,” said Hill. “The Championship is a stage to push on into the Premiership, but that’s all in good time. It’s about building blocks towards that, it’s not about going in too heavy.”
New Carnegie head coach Bryan Redpath has spoken of the need to keep players like Hill and his fellow England Under-20s prospects Jack Walker and Josh Bainbridge at Headingley.
But if these are to be Hill’s last acts as a Carnegie player then he wants to do his utmost to get them into the top four. As he has proven, Hill has relished the big occasions. He was instrumental in the Under-20s Six Nations campaign that ended with a thrilling win in the title decider over France.
“Winning the Six Nations was fantastic,” he said.
“It’s been an interesting block of fixtures for me, changing between having a couple of weeks with England and then coming back to Carnegie.
“They’re pretty similar the two teams in terms of approach and how they play so it’s an easy transition. It’s been hard but really exciting.”