Edinburgh Rugby sign England cap Paul Hill to help plug WP Nel gap

Edinburgh have moved to fill the gap created by WP Nel’s imminent retirement by signing England international Paul Hill from Northampton Saints.
Paul Hill will leave Northampton Saints at the end of the season to join Edinburgh. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)Paul Hill will leave Northampton Saints at the end of the season to join Edinburgh. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Paul Hill will leave Northampton Saints at the end of the season to join Edinburgh. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

The tighthead prop, who has been capped six times, will join the capital club in the summer on a two-year deal. It was announced last week that Nel, an Edinburgh veteran of over 200 games who has played 61 times for Scotland, would retire at the end of the season.

Hill, 29, was born in Germany but moved to England as a child and took up rugby, initially with Doncaster Knights. He joined Yorkshire Carnegie and helped England Under-20s win the Junior World Cup. He moved to Northampton in 2015 and has played almost 200 games for the Premiership club. He made his England debut against Italy in the 2016 Six Nations and won his sixth cap in 2021 as a replacement against Canada.

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Sean Everitt, the Edinburgh head coach, had hoped Nel, 37, would play on for another season but the prop has been affected by neck issues recently and decided it was time to retire when the current campaign concludes. Everitt stressed the importance of bringing in an experienced tighthead to replace Nel.

“We’re really happy to secure the signature of a player of Paul’s quality and experience,” said the coach. “He’s played a lot of rugby at a top level and his arrival will only help drive standards and competition at the tighthead position.

“With WP hanging up his boots at the end of the year, it was imperative we recruited well in that department. We feel Paul has all the attributes to succeed in our pack, and he can hit the ground running straight away this summer.”

Hill will vie for the tighthead berth at Edinburgh with Javan Sebastian, D’Arcy Rae and Angus Williams. Rae and Williams signed contract extensions this week.

Hill, who is leaving Saints after nine seasons, said: “This is a really exciting challenge and one that I can’t wait to get stuck into. From everything I’ve read and heard, Edinburgh is an amazing club and city, while it will be great to test myself in a new league in the URC.

“I’ve absolutely loved my time at Northampton Saints, and I can’t speak highly enough of the people connected to the club and fans who’ve backed me throughout my career so far. However, after nine seasons, the time was right to move on. My family and I are really excited about this move.

“From speaking to Sean, he’s got a really clear plan and vision for the club. He wants to win on the field while creating an environment and culture of winning off the field too. It’s something that I can buy into really easily.

“I’m an experienced player – I’ve played nearly 200 games for Saints – while I’m still pretty young at 29, so I know I’ve still got a huge amount to offer. Given my experience, I can hopefully help out some of the younger Scottish props coming through the system too.

“I can’t wait to link up with the squad this summer and represent such a historic club for the next two seasons.”



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