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Page last updated at 13:25 GMT, Friday, 9 May 2008 14:25 UK

Hill ready for Saracens farewell

Richard Hill
Hill has spent his entire club career with Saracens

Richard Hill will bring the curtain down on his illustrious 15-year career when Saracens take on Bristol at Milton Keynes' Stadium MK on Saturday.

The World Cup-winning flanker has been beset by knee injuries which have kept him out of international action since the 2005 Lions tour to New Zealand.

"There's no doubt he was the most consistent player I ever played with," said England manager Martin Johnson.

"He was playing right at the top level every time he played."

The 34-year-old - nicknamed the "Silent Assassin" because of his work by stealth in rucks, mauls and breakdowns - is one of English rugby's most unassuming personalities.

However, two major knee operations have prevented Hill from adding to his 71 international caps for England - his last appearance came in the 2004 Six Nations.

The injuries eventually took their toll as Hill announced his impending retirement at the end of the season in January.

Former England captain Johnson paid tribute to Hill's resilience and determination, which he believed gave him that extra edge in the number six shirt.

I consider it a privilege that I have been able to work with such a great over the past two seasons

Saracens boss Alan Gaffney

"I remember one match, I think his 200th game for the club," Johnson told RFU.com.

"Leicester were comfortably ahead of Saracens, which was unusual for us at Vicarage Road, and Hilly had a dead leg.

"It was just before the Six Nations, so I said to him 'you should get yourself off'.

"But he stayed on until the end, even though the match was effectively a lost cause. It's those sorts of moments that fellow players most appreciate."

Saracens director of rugby Alan Gaffney was equally lavish with praise for Hill.

"I consider it a privilege that I have been able to work with such a great over the past two seasons," said Gaffney.

"I can't speak highly enough of him as a player, and a person, and he deserves all the plaudits he receives after what has been a fantastic career for Saracens, England and the Lions."

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Saracens have been forced to switch Saturday's match with Bristol to Milton Keynes because of Watford's Championship play-off match against Hull City kicking off at 1200 BST on Sunday.

Premier Rugby regulations state that all the last round of league matches must kick off at 1500 BST on the same day, while Saracens' ground hire agreement means they cannot kick off within 24 hours of a Watford home match.

"While it would have been nice for Richard to finish off his Saracens career at Vicarage Road, that won't be possible now," said Saracens' chief executive Mark Sinderberry.

All Vicarage Road season tickets and match tickets will be valid for Stadium MK.


see also
Farewell hero Hill
09 May 08 |  English
Saracens v Bristol
09 May 08 |  English
Hill might play one final match
28 Apr 08 |  Rugby Union
Hill to retire at end of season
24 Jan 08 |  Saracens


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