Rugby League great Terry Hill dies aged 52 in The Philippines as NRL mourns loss of Manly premiership winner

Scott Bailey
The Nightly
Terry Hill has died aged 52.
Terry Hill has died aged 52. Credit: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

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 from a heart attack 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

Sign up to The Nightly's newsletters.

Get the first look at the digital newspaper, curated daily stories and breaking headlines delivered to your inbox.

Email Us
By continuing you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy.

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.

He was the top try-scorer in the 1997 ARL competition during the Super League war.

Former Western Magpies great David Gillespie was with Hill in The Philippines last week helping raise money for an orphanage. Hill was married to a Filipino and travelled to the country often.

“He was usual self, the life of the party,” Gillespie told The Daily Telegraph.

“Terry was fine and had everyone in stitches at the fundraiser. His death is sudden, unexpected and incredibly sad. He was a very generous person.

“As a player, Terry was relentless, tough and uncompromising. He would give it and take it.”

Terry Hill holds aloft the winners trophy after the ARL Grand Final between the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles and the St George Dragons in 1996.
Terry Hill holds aloft the winners trophy after the ARL Grand Final between the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles and the St George Dragons in 1996. Credit: Getty Images/Getty Images

Paul Langmack played with Hill at Wests from 1992-93

“Terry was very energetic and loved to sledge on the field,” Langmack said.

“He was a tough competitor. He had a great career.”

Manly CEO Tony Mestrov said: “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.”

“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 the heart attack on Wednesday.

“Terry was a fantastic South Sydney junior and we looked after him when he came into grade,” former Souths teammate Craig Coleman told The Daily Telegraph.

“He was a tremendous footballer. I know his whole family. It’s very sad, devastating.

“He was loved by everyone.”

Hill also owned greyhounds with the NSW Greyhound Racing industry saying he was “extremely passionate” about his dogs.

“Terry was one of the great assets of the greyhound industry. He has been a lifelong supporter of greyhound racing, has owned some wonderful champion greyhounds along the way, and more importantly, his passion for the sport was infectious,” GRNSW Chief Executive Officer Rob Macaulay said.

“Terry had great enthusiasm for greyhound racing and was responsible for helping the sport to attract widespread media coverage in the 1990s with his live television crosses to Dapto on a Thursday night during the Channel Nine Footy Show to watch his greyhound Nads race.

“Years later Terry said he would be stopped on The Corso at Manly not to be asked about his football career, but to chat about Nads and the racetrack he loved, Dapto.

“On behalf of GRNSW and the entire greyhound community in NSW, I offer our deepest condolences to Terry’s family and his enormous group of friends.

“Terry Hill will be sorely missed.”

Latest Edition

The front page of The Nightly for 22-07-2024

Latest Edition

Edition Edition 22 July 202422 July 2024

Desperate Democrats look to comeback queen Harris.