David Hill – Late Starter – But every post a winner since

AbsolutelyFamous owner-drivers John Alexander and Tony Stretch spent an enjoyable day with the Chiefs Super rugby team at Sanctuary Cove on the Gold Coast last week, attending training and meeting the players and coaches.

John sat down with one his former fellow sports reporters at the Marlborough Express newspaper David Hill to chat about David’s amazing rugby journey both as a player and now a coach, a journey that began at Marlborough Boys College in Blenheim.

Chiefs Super rugby team assistant coach David Hill wasn’t that interested in rugby when he first attended Marlborough Boys College in Blenheim (New Zealand).

He was certainly a multi-talented sportsman during those early years, playing rep soccer and basketball for Marlborough and volleyball and in summer he played rep cricket for Marlborough out of the Wairau Club.

He credited those formative years in rugby and in club and rep cricket, for preparing him for the rigours of professional rugby.

“Recalling those early years, David said, “Had some great help from guys like Ian Stark, Peter Jones. First couple of years learning rugby under Jim Love and Tony Goddard playing for Marlborough in the third division.

“Rob Penney was captain, the last of the elder statesman were holding onto to some good old amateur traditions. Onfield stuff was pretty rough and brutal, the off-field stuff was pretty rough and brutal too.”

David’s career blossomed, starting with a semi-professional stint with the Calvisano Club in Italy and carrying on to Bristol in the English premiership, then his most successful stint with the Toshiba Brave Lupus team in the Japan top league. David broke points scoring records there, won Player of the Year and was a major contributor in two titles they won during that period.

He also played NPC rugby for Southland and Waikato, mainly at first-five, then for the Chiefs in Super rugby and even had a brief six week stint with the John Mitchell-coached Western Force during a break in his Japan seasons.

BACK IN BLACK: Chiefs and All Blacks kicking coach David Hill at practice last week

The highlights of course were being selected for the Māori All Blacks in 2005 and he started at first-five ahead of Carlos Spencer in an epic Māori All Blacks win over the British and Irish Lions by 19-13, David kicking two penalties.

Leon MacDonald also scored their only try and it was the only time David and his close mate Leon played a match together in the same team.

In 2001 the big career highlight, being named in John Mitchell’s first All Blacks squad and he played two mid-week matches on the northern hemisphere tour then after a gap of five years played one test as a replacement against Ireland.In later years David has been assistant coach of Bay of Plenty, the New Zealand under 20 side and now the Chiefs and is the current kicking coach of the All Blacks, having been encouraged to get into that side of coaching by former All Blacks kicking coach, Mick Byrne who now coaches the Fiji Drua Super rugby team.

David lives in Tauranga with his wife Heather And three children, 13 year-old Valentina, Matteo aged 11 and 10 year-old Luciano.

David Hill in amongst it at Sanctury Cove, Gold Coast.

Interview & Words by John Alexander | Supporting Images sourced by Absolutely Famous.

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