JONNY Hill’s hunger and belief that ‘his time is now’ will ensure his first England try is far from his last, says the man who has helped coach the Ludlow-born star to ever-growing heights.

Hill scrambled over from close range to score England’s opening try – and his first for his country on his sixth cap – in their 41-18 Six Nations win over Italy at Twickenham on Saturday.

Exeter Chiefs forwards coach Rob Hunter told the Advertiser that Hill has taken his game to another level this past year after international recognition followed a domestic and European club double.

And he believes the 26-year-old former Ludlow School pupil from Stanton Lacy has all the tools at his disposal to become a regular starter – and scorer – for Eddie Jones’ side.

Hunter said: “He really knows how to score, how to get the ball over the line when he’s close, he understands five-yard attack, we do it a lot here, we’re very good at it and we score a lot of tries.

“But he also understands how it’s different for him, as a really tall guy, to a short squat powerful hooker type. He understands how to use his size and reach to get those tries scored.

“The big thing that you’ve really got to applaud is that when you get close, Jonny really wants the ball. There’s a lot of players, even at international level, that avoid it.

“But he wants to be involved, he wants to be in those situations. And you really do need that in your squad.

“He’s become a key player for us at the Chiefs – last year was a great example. He came out of lockdown in fantastic condition when some folk at other clubs had had a bit of a cruise.

“He tore into the remainder of the Premiership and European campaign, helped us win those two trophies and quite rightly got an opportunity again with England. We’re very proud of him.

“To be fair when he toured with England the first time (in South Africa in 2018, where Hill did not play) he was probably a bit young.

“Sometimes that just happens, you can remember a point when a player decided he was going to be in charge of his own development and made the steps they need to, to become a top-flight player.

“For me, that was last year in lockdown when Jonny appeared again looking like he was going to win two trophies and go on to play for England.

“He looked every inch that guy and sometimes that just takes a bit of time for them to experience the international scene and grow to that point where they’ve got that confidence in themselves.”

Hunter first coached 6ft 9in Hill, whose early career was plagued with injuries, with England Under-20s before they reunited at Exeter in 2015.

He added: “He was very confident about his ability and that really came across right from the start. He had a real self-confidence, but not arrogance, about his rugby ability and that shone through.

“And, of course, he is of a size you just don’t come across every day. His desire and hunger to be a top-flight player shone and he worked hard through those injuries to get himself back on the pitch.”