Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Lifer Hill Gets Ready to Tackle His Friends

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Lifer Hill Gets Ready to Tackle His Friends

Article excerpt

Byline: CHRIS JONES

ENGLAND flanker Richard Hill today pledged to finish his career at Saracens to prove that loyalty still means something in professional rugby.

Hill is in his 11th season with Saracens - his only senior club - and has another 18 months to run on his four-year contract. While the first-team squad have operated a revolving-door policy in recent seasons, the 30-year-old has no intention of leaving.

He told Standard Sport: "I signed my latest contract two-and-a-half years ago because this is the club where I feel at home and I would like to see out the rest of my career at Sarries.

"By the time the contract ends I will have been here for 12 years and I have never dwelt on the 'what if I had moved?' question.

"Playing at Sarries, despite our recent struggles, has not harmed my international career - I have never been held back. I value the friendships I have at the club and the backing of the supporters and that's why I am happy to stay."

The Lions star has been one of the constant factors in a Sarries squad that has featured some of the biggest names in rugby - Michael Lynagh, Francois Pienaar, Philippe Sella and Thomas Castaignede. While others have retired, lost form or jumped ship, Hill has been hard at work at the pumps.

He is revered by Sarries fans, whose last moment of triumph came in the 1998 Tetley's Bitter Cup Final and in recent seasons it's been one long battle against inconsistency, serious injuries and variable coaching talent.

Amid all the comings and goings, Hill has stood tall and you can almost hear a sigh of collective relief whenever his name is announced over the Vicarage Road tannoy.

He is now preparing to spearhead Sarries' bid for a place in the Powergen Cup semi-finals by defeating Sale Sharks at Edgeley Park tomorrow night. For Hill, it is a particularly difficult assignment having just spent three weeks on England duty alongside Sale's Jason Robinson and Chris Jones.

Instead of winning loose ball to allow Robinson to weave his silverbooted magic, Hill will be aiming to deny the Sale star possession - a task that will bring him in direct opposition to the latest addition to the England back-row club. …

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