Heriot’s back-row Jason Hill was the star of the show at the end of season Scottish Rugby Club Awards – and now the 25-year-old is keen to try and take his rugby to the next level in 2015/16.
Over the last few years, the former Stirling County player has been one of the mainstays of the Goldenacre side and it is fair to say that 2014/15 was by far the best season of his career.
He scored a cracking individual try for the Scotland Club XV in their win over Ireland; he was asked to train with Glasgow Warriors for a few weeks and travelled with them to one of their matches, he played against the Barbarians and he performed consistently as Heriot’s lifted the BT Premiership trophy.
His form for the club earned him the BT Premiership Player of the Season award at the Scottish Rugby Club Awards last Friday while he also picked up the Brigadier Frank Coutts Memorial Try of the Season trophy.
The second award was handed out for the try he scored in the dying seconds to help Heriot’s defeat Melrose in the most dramatic of circumstances to win the first ever BT Premiership final at Goldenacre at the end of April.
“It has just been an amazing year for me and for Heriot’s,” Hill beamed.
“I have loved being at the club over the last few years and when we won the Scottish Cup in 2013/14 it gave us a real boost and we knew that we could target the double in the following season.
“Sadly we were knocked out of the Cup by Hawick, but that loss spurred us on to make sure that we won the BT Premiership. We topped the regular season table by quite a few points, but we knew that would mean nothing if we could not go on and win our semi and then the final.
“The final against Melrose was much closer than we would have liked, but the try I scored at the end showed everything you need to know about this Heriot’s team because we never gave up and the boys kept the ball alive for many, many phases.”
As well as Hill winning two awards on the night, his head coach Phil Smith was named the Caledonia Best Coach of the Season for masterminding the club’s successful season.
Along with his assistant Steve Lawrie, Smith seems to have really created a tight group at Goldenacre who all buy into his philosophy.
Certainly Hill has enjoyed working with the duo and he said: “It was great to see Phil pick up an award because he is the man that has helped Heriot’s reach the heights that we have done.
“He is very organised and he makes the training fun, but we are always learning and we know when we need to be serious and when to get ourselves ready for the next challenge.
“I think if you spoke to any of the players at Heriot’s they would say that Phil and Steve (Lawrie, forwards coach) have had a positive impact on their progression.”
Having had a taste of professional rugby when he trained with the Warriors a few months back, Hill is keen to try and move into those ranks more permanently if he can.
Whether that happens after the summer or not is yet to be determined, but like all ambitious players he wants to test himself. “I really enjoyed my time with the Warriors, just getting an insight into how the set-up works and how hard the players work,” he said.
“It was brilliant for everyone in Scottish Rugby to see them win the Guinness PRO12 at the weekend.
“For the minute I will just keep working away and also have a rest this summer, but if a chance does come up to move to a higher level then I would think about it very carefully, but I also love turning out for Heriot’s.”