Super Rugby: Bull rider grabs chance by horns

By Daniel Richardson

Southland farmer Hill seizes opportunity to enjoy wild ride with Canes at expense of Ardie Savea.

Hurricanes loosie Adam Hill, center, enjoys the rough and tumble. Photo / Getty Images
Hurricanes loosie Adam Hill, center, enjoys the rough and tumble. Photo / Getty Images

If Adam Hill gets trampled at the bottom of a ruck tomorrow night it will probably seem like a tickle compared to his former exploits as a bull rider.

The 27-year-old will make his first start in Super Rugby at blindside flanker for the Hurricanes against the Brumbies in Wellington as Mark Hammett's side search for their first win of the season.

Hill is only a wider training group member with the Hurricanes, but Faifili Levave's head knock in last weekend's 19-18 loss to the Stormers in Cape Town, coupled with Brad Shields' knee injury, meant an opening surfaced.

There's no denying Hill enjoys a bit of the rough stuff and he spent a couple of summers riding bulls on the Christmas circuit down south as a teenager.

"It was a good time with great mates but she's hard on the body," Hill said.

As for his most painful experience, he offered: "Probably going over the front of a bull and just getting run over is not much fun."

After picking up 14 caps for Otago over two seasons - strictly as an openside flanker - Hill, who grew up on a sheep and beef farm at Waikaka, near Gore in eastern Southland, went to Hong Kong during the 2012-2013 summer to play for the DeA Tigers.

After his partner was offered a job in Wellington, he then relocated to the capital last year and played for the Lions in the ITM Cup.

Hammett saw enough of Hill in last season's national provincial competition to believe he was worthy of a wider training group deal and a spate of injuries means the farmer can now give professional rugby a good shake.

"I'll go back farming one day," he said. "But I'm going to try every opportunity at rugby first."

Hill's opportunity for tomorrow night arguably comes at the expense of 20-year-old Ardie Savea, who is again on the bench for the Hurricanes.

Starting openside Jack Lam has been sensational during the first two games of the season but Hammett could have deployed Lam and Savea in a left and right flanker attack. Instead, he opted for Hill's work rate and ability as a lineout jumper given he stands 1.90m.

Hill's first Super Rugby cap came two weeks ago during the Hurricanes' 27-9 loss to the Sharks in Durban. But after coming off the bench, he was sent to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle on Lwazi Mvovo after only a couple of minutes on the field.

He wasn't required against the Stormers last weekend but gets the chance to redeem himself tomorrow.

Meanwhile, James Marshall gets the nod at fullback ahead of Marty Banks in the only other change to the Hurricanes' starting XV from last week.

- APNZ

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