Rugby league cult hero Terry Hill dies aged 52

Scott Bailey |

Rugby league is mourning the death of cult hero Terry Hill.
Rugby league is mourning the death of cult hero Terry Hill.

Rugby league is mourning the loss of one of the game’s cult heroes of the 1990s and 2000s, after Terry Hill died at age 52 while in the Philippines.

A NSW State of Origin and Kangaroos Test centre, Hill won a premiership at Manly in 1996 and played 246 first-grade games for five clubs.

A star on the field as a hole-running centre, Hill scored 89 tries in first grade to go with his seven in eight matches for Australia

Hill was part of Manly’s dominant side of the mid-1990s after arriving from Western Suburbs in 1994 following his debut at South Sydney in 1990.

He then returned to finish his career at the Sea Eagles in 2005, as part of Des Hasler’s early rebuild of the club.

“Terry was a much-loved and respected figure at not only at the Sea Eagles, but across rugby league, where he played for several clubs,” Manly CEO Tony Mestrov said.

“On behalf of everyone at the Sea Eagles, we offer our deepest and sincere condolences to Terry’s family and friends during this difficult time.

“Terry will always be fondly remembered at Manly.”

Hill was just as notable off the field as one of the game’s true characters through the Super League era and into the early 21st century.

His face-to-face showdown with Gorden Tallis during the 1999 series is part of State of Origin folklore.

The centre was also a regular on Nine’s Footy Show during the program’s peak era of popularity.

In a more serious sense, Hill’s influence remains over the NRL.

At age 19, he took the NSW Rugby League to court after refusing to go to Eastern Suburbs when drafted by the Roosters in the second league-wide draft in 1992.

As the face of the case, 126 other plaintiffs joined Hill and successfully won in the High Court, arguing the draft was a restraint of trade.

The draft has never returned to the NRL, with the case viewed as a crucial point in the growth of the Rugby League Players’ Association.

After retiring from the NRL at the end of 2005, Hill briefly played rugby union before turning to coaching league in Umina.

He had spent regular time in the Philippines recently, before suffering a heart attack on Wednesday.

AAP