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Adam Hills on prosthetics, league at Paralympics and Fonua-Blake

Dan Phillips is missing most of his right leg, from above the knee down. A truck hit him as he was cycling home after dropping off something at his wife's work.

Then because of his determination to keep playing rugby league for the Warrington Wolves physical disability team, his wife Nat hid his prosthetic leg.

Comedian and league tragic Adam Hills, whose documentary "Take His Legs" screens at 9.30pm on Monday on the Ten and WIN television networks, still giggles at the story.

"I met him at the first open trial. We were supposed to be playing tag but he ran at me and he went in hard," Hills tells

"Every time we ran at each other it got more and more physical. So he and I started to bond, partly because of that and also because he's a leg amputee on the right leg like me – just missing more than me.

Adam Hills scores a try for Warrington  Wolves.
Adam Hills scores a try for Warrington Wolves. ©Take His Legs

"So after the first game we played [for the Wolves] in Leeds, Dan did so much damage they had to re-amputate his stump – cut another 10 centimetres off it.

"So he was back in hospital, had to go through rehab again, learn how to walk again, get a new prosthetic made…

"And he did it straight away so he could come out to Australia and play in the World Cup Challenge," the diehard Rabbitohs fan said, referring to the match against Russell Crowe's South Sydney Physical Disability Rugby League team.

It doesn't matter how famous you are, Adam Hills helps pack up after training.
It doesn't matter how famous you are, Adam Hills helps pack up after training. ©Take His Legs

"Along the way he would still come and watch us train, even on crutches. And his wife was so scared he would start playing again prematurely, that she hid his prosthetic leg.

"I took her aside and said 'Come on, you can tell me' and she said 'Promise you won't tell him. I put it in the one place I know he would never look'."

That happened to be the household washing machine.

So Dan and Adam and the rest of the Wolves will showcase their journey in 'Take His Legs' and in doing so, Hills hopes all people – not just sports lovers – get the message.

"And that is that disability isn't as big a deal as you think it is," Hills said.

"Especially because this is rugby league – the toughest, most physically demanding sport on the planet. So for me I wanted to show that. In our first game against Leeds the crowd gasps and groans with the big hits."

The Wolves also played at Anfield at half-time in a Super League game and the response was immediate.

"I got so many messages from people saying 'I heard about your game but I honestly didn't believe it would be THAT physical'."

Adam Hills says spectators are surprised by the physicality.
Adam Hills says spectators are surprised by the physicality. ©Take His Legs

It is the same feeling Hills had when he saw his first game of wheelchair basketball – it changed his perception of people in wheelchairs.

"They are in no way as fragile as I thought. I hope people get that out of 'Take His Legs', which my father wanted to originally call 'Can't Run Without Legs' which he would yell at me as I played."

And that’s the next goal for the nine-a-side PDRL: the Paralympic Games.

There are already six wheelchair rugby league divisions in NSW and Queensland.


This is the Trailer for "Take His Legs" - the documentary about the birth of our Warrington Wolves Physical Disability...

Posted by Adam Hills Official Page on Monday, 9 December 2019

But Hills would like the stand-up version of the game (PDRL) to be adopted in rugby league countries so it can qualify for the Paralympics like wheelchair rugby, also known as "murder ball". The Australian team, the Steelers, are two-time Paralympic gold medallists (2012 London, 2016 Rio Games).

"The first step is to get it (PDRL) as part of the 2021 World Cup. So far there's men's and women's and wheelchair competitions there, so I'd like to get us there – even if it's a tri-nations with New Zealand and England, or a few demonstration games.

Dan did so much damage they had to re-amputate his stump – cut another 10 centimetres off it.

Adam Hills

"If we do get that then 'Take His Legs 2' the sequel begins where I try to play for Australia!"

So Hills hopes the public embrace PDRL as part of the ongoing education about disability in Australia – a topic fuelled most recently by Manly prop Addin Fonua-Blake's punishment for using a derogatory term in abusing a referee.

"The positive is that the word and words he used have entered our slang and are said all the time and a lot of people don't really realise how offensive they are," Hills said.

"He apologised and immediately said he never thought about what those words meant. Hopefully a lot of other people will think about it too

"It opens people's eyes and they think: 'You know what, that is a horrible thing to say'.

"So it creates more awareness and fair play to him for putting his hand up. In a weird way it's brought this to people's attention and we'll all be the better for it."

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