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How ‘a dumb play or two’ could have hurt Jonny Hill with England

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Jonny Hill was the big-name casualty on Tuesday evening when Steve Borthwick trimmed his England squad from 36 to 29 ahead of this Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations opener at home to Scotland. The 28-year-old lock, who joined Sale from Exeter for the 2022/23 club season, had been a firm favourite under Eddie Jones, Borthwick’s predecessor as England boss.

For instance, he started all seven of Jones’ last games in charge, returning for the July 2022 tour to Australia and continuing to be a first-choice Autumn Nations Series pick in a year that had started with him missing the entire Six Nations through a high ankle injury.

Hill now finds himself out of the England picture again with the latest Six Nations campaign set to start at Twickenham and how he reacts to his release by Borthwick will be interesting.

There was some media criticism of the second row for his concession of three penalties in the November finale loss to the Springboks, and his indiscipline was again commented on when Sale were knocked out of the Heineken Champions Cup with their January 21 loss at Ulster.

It was something that Sale boss Alex Sanderson referenced in his media briefing last week ahead of the league win over Bath, the upside and the downside of players such as Hill being so heavily involved in hectic contests. The DoR admitted that his player had made a couple of dumb plays in Belfast, an observation that also referenced Hill’s reportedly gigantic tackle count on the night.


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