“There’s One Guy That Stuck Out For Me” – England’s Jonny Hill On The Irish Lion He Looks Up To
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The man, the myth, the legend.
England lock Jonny Hill has named former Ireland and Munster second-rower as one of the Lions he has always looked up to.
O’Connell went on three British and Irish Lions tours in his career (2005, 2009 & 2013) and led the famous touring side on their last visit to South Africa in 2009 as tour captain under head coach Sir Ian McGeechan.
The Limerick man is widely regarded as one of the best to have every played the game and is fabled for his incredible leadership skills on and off the pitch.
Hill says he remembers watching videos of O’Connell, seeing exactly what he brought to the table and why he is so well respected among the rugby world.
“There’s one guy that stuck out to me – Paul O’Connell,” Hill told us.
“His leadership amongst the squads that came on tours, I remember watching videos of him and things like that. They’re the people I’ve always looked up to, Paul and Martin Johnson and Alun Wyn Jones as well.
“Some proper big names.
“I’m honoured to be in the shirt that they’ve worn.”
In terms of this weekends’ game, with Hill set to make his first start for the Lions, the England lock is well aware of the challenge that lies ahead.
“They’re a very physical side and there’s no secret as to the way the South Africans play the game,” Hill said.
“I play alongside two, three, four South African-born lads at Chiefs and I know how they’re made up. We know what’s coming and there’s a lot of South African lads in the league, and you always have an awareness of them, definitely, physically.
“We’ve spoken about setting a marker at the set-piece as forwards. Wherever our mark is set, then we can build on it, build on it, build on it into the Test matches,
“It’s hugely important, they’re a side that has won huge games from their set-piece so that’s a thing in these games they’re going to target and we need to target as well.”