Hill so happy with the faith shown in him at Saints

Paul Hill has enjoyed a good run in the Saints starting line-up in recent weeks
Paul Hill has enjoyed a good run in the Saints starting line-up in recent weeks

Paul Hill is revelling in the run of starts he has been given at Saints in recent times.

The 24-year-old has become a fixture at tighthead, earning 12 appearances in the first 15 since returning from the shoulder injury that sidelined him for 10 weeks at the start of the season.

Hill had only made eight, six and five starts respectively during his previous three seasons in the black, green and gold.

But there has been plenty of faith put in him this time round - and he is happy to have the chance to consistently impress.

"I'm just glad to be back playing," said Hill, who signed a new Saints contract in February.

"I missed the first 10 weeks of the season because of injury and it was a case of fighting to get my shirt.

"Now I'm back in the team and I'm pretty happy.

"I was fighting for a shirt and a contract.

"Nothing is a given, I've got to front up every single weekend and earn it.

"I'm enjoying that challenge at the moment."

On life under the stewardship of boss Chris Boyd, who arrived at Saints last summer, Hill said: "It's definitely a turn for the better.

"The general feel around the club is very positive.

"We've got a great set of boys and the direction we're going in is positive.

"The club is very well run at the moment and I'm really happy with how it's going."

A plethora of young players have been afforded opportunities this season.

And Hill added: "We've got lads like Hutch (Rory Hutchinson), Furbs (George Furbank), Grays (James Grayson) and Moony (Alex Moon), who have been in exceptional form this year and it's really good to see.

"It's good to know that talent is rewarded so regardless of age or reputation you're going to get a good shot.

"It's massively positive and competition benefits everyone.

"If you're always fighting for the shirt, it's going to benefit you and the team."

Saints now turn their attentions to a huge final five games in the Gallagher Premiership, starting with a Franklin's Gardens clash with Gloucester on Sunday afternoon.

"These next five games are effectively knock-out games for us - we can't afford to lose any of them," Hill said.

"We need to be on the ball every single week.

"A lot of people compare us to Gloucester in the style of rugby we're trying to play.

"They've got some big threats in their team with their back three and their pack.

"We've identified their strengths and it's about managing their strong back three players and their back rowers carrying.

"Then it's about finding holes in their defence when we can attack."

Saints, who lost 61-38 in the Challenge Cup quarter-final at Clermont Auvergne last Sunday, are eight points behind fourth-placed Harlequins and nine adrift of third-placed Gloucester.

And Hill said: "Quins are a few points above us but everyone's chasing for that fourth position and everyone's in contention.

"You can't afford to slip off in the final few games.

"Every single game is knock-out rugby now."