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PDRL pioneer Adam Hills receives Queen's honour

Physical Disability Rugby League pioneer and RLWC2021 ambassador Adam Hills didn’t tell his family he had been recognised in the Queen's New Year’s Honours because he wasn’t sure Australians were eligible.

Hills, who is a lifelong supporter of South Sydney Rabbitohs, was awarded an OBE for services to Paralympic Sport and Disability Awareness.

The host of The Last Leg program, which is produced in England, has been instrumental in the development of Physical Disability Rugby League since playing for Warrington Wolves in the first ever British fixture against Leeds Rhinos Foundation in 2018.

A documentary Hills made about Warrington’s trip to Australia to play South Sydney in the Physical Disability World Club Challenge won an award in the Television/Digital Documentary category at the 2019 British Sports Journalism Awards.

Hills is also an official ambassador for the 2021 World Cup to be played in England at the end of this year, which includes a Physical Disability tournament to be played alongside the men’s, women’s and wheelchair competitions.

"I am absolutely chuffed to bits to be given this honour,” Hills told PA. “I've already googled ‘Australian comedians who have received honours', 'when can I start writing MBE after my name?' and 'are Australians even eligible for an MBE?'.

"Turns out the answers are 'Barry Humphries and Clive James', 'when you receive the medal' and 'yes'.

"Honestly though, for a boy from the southern suburbs of Sydney, this is quite a massive deal."

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A post shared by Adam Hills (@adamhillscomedy)

However, Hills said he had not told his family of the OBE yet.

"Firstly, I'm still not convinced someone isn't playing a prank on me,” he said. “Secondly, I'm worried I'll make a joke about the Royal family that causes them to change their minds before the awards are announced.

"I'm pretty sure however that if they didn't have a good sense of humour, I wouldn't be on the list in the first place. I'm also pretty sure my mum will cry when she hears the news."

RFL CEO Ralph Rimmer said Hills, who has a prosthetic leg, had been a trailblazer for Physical Disability Rugby League.

“He’s taken the inspirational stories of the players involved to a national and international audience – and the great thing is he’s continued to play himself, despite the odd setback, with his unmistakeable love for the sport proving both uplifting and infectious,” Rimmer said.

Hills previously told that his ambition was for Physical Disability Rugby League to be included in the Paralympic Games.

The Last Leg started as a show that ran alongside the London 2012 Paralympics coverage on Channel 4, but due to its popularity and ratings success it became a permanent fixture.

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

The Bafta-nominated series, which is shown on the ABC, covers the week's news topics but has also shone a light on conversations around disability with coverage of the London, Rio and Tokyo Paralympic Games.

"Paralympic sport has changed the way I see my own disability, as well as disability in general," Hills said.

"I feel so incredibly lucky to be given the chance to cover the Paralympics and am happy to shout about Paralympic sport at every opportunity.

"To be awarded for doing that is kind of like being awarded for eating chocolate - I love doing it anyway but if someone wants to give me a medal for it, I'll happily accept."

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