AFL Star Bobby Hill Is Just Getting Started

Bobby Hill on chasing another premiership, overcoming cancer and the importance of Indigenous Round

Following a whirlwind couple of years that saw him become a father, recover from testicular cancer, win an AFL premiership in his first season with a new club and take home the Norm Smith medal for best on ground in last year’s grand final, Collingwood forward and Whadjuk-Ballardong Noongar man Bobby Hill is still pushing for more. As he explains to Men’s Health, that includes showcasing his culture on the nation’s biggest stage

IT WAS NEARLY eight months ago now, but Bobby Hill can still recall the final moments of the 2023 AFL grand final – or what he calls the “game of my life” – like they happened only yesterday. “We were confident all day and we knew what we had to do,” he tells Men’s Health. But Hill, who has just come on board as a Red Bull athlete, knew more than anyone else what was required to secure victory on that late September day.

“I played my best game in the game that really matters most,” Hill says, and that’s an understatement. The lightning-quick small forward blessed with remarkable leaping ability notched four goals in just the first half, and racked up 18 disposals over the course of the grand final. He even delivered the highlight of the game, taking a spectacular mark in the second passage of play over Brisbane defender Brandon Starcevich – who has a full five inches in height and 20kg in weight on Hill. But despite his efforts, the grand final was one of the most competitive and tightly contested in recent memory.

“When Charlie Cameron kicked that goal, [Brisbane] probably thought that they were going to win it,” he remembers, retracing the dying moments of the fourth quarter with exacting precision. “We train for those situations and we managed the moment. Jordy [De Goey] ends up kicking that goal to put us up and I was confident from there.”

Such was the back-and-forth nature of the game that it wasn’t until the last kick of the ball, a spiralling Brody Mihocek torpedo down the MCG’s Northern sideline, that it began to sink in that Hill was going to win an AFL premiership, thanks in large part to his own inspired performance – in front of more than 100,000 people, no less.

Hill’s output earned him the Norm Smith medal in what was essentially a unanimous decision, tallying the maximum 15 votes. But individual awards are not why Hill plays footy, and he delivers a lesson in humility when recounting the game. “If I was a spectator I probably would’ve had my money on Nick Daicos to win it,” he says. “It was what we all put into it. It wasn’t just me, it was my teammates too. I guess you could call it a fairy tale year.”


Bobby Hill

Samuel Costin / Red Bull


There’s no room for sentimentality in footy, but if anyone deserved a fairy tale year in 2023, it was Hill. A year earlier, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer at just 22 years of age, just as he was becoming a regular contributor for the GWS Giants. “It was scary, being the age I was. I’d just had a little son at the time and I was worried I wasn’t gonna see him grow up,” he says. “I didn’t ever think I was going to get it. None of my family members ever got it, so it was daunting at the time.”

Hill was one of the lucky ones, as his cancer was detected early. After receiving surgery, he spent the rest of the year recovering. During that time, he was traded by GWS to Collingwood, where a fresh start presented itself. The recovery period was a trying time. It completely changed Hill’s outlook on health and there were moments where he feared he’d never play in the AFL again, but there was much to be learned from the experience. “I look back on it and I think it’s made me the man I am today.”

Now, Hill is sharing an important message as an ambassador for Movember and encouraging young men to get checked for cancer. “It’s nothing to play around with, it’s your life that’s at risk,” he says. “It’s not embarrassing, if you’re worried, you’ve got to get checked. There’s more important things in life to be worried about than being embarrassed.”


Bobby Hill

Samuel Costin / Red Bull


Hill has carried his superlative grand final-winning form into the 2024 season. After Collingwood made a slow start to the year, which was exacerbated by a slew of injuries to their attack, Hill has stepped up big time. Collingwood is unbeaten since dropping the first three games of the year, with six wins and a draw since their last loss. Which brings us to Sir Doug Nicholls Round, otherwise known as Indigenous Round, which has come to symbolise Hill’s pride in his culture.

“It’s just unbelievable that we get to celebrate my culture,” Hill says. “When I was a young kid I remember watching the Dreamtime at the ‘G and I always wanted to be a part of it. I wanted to do a dance at the ‘G after kicking a goal.” And after sending one through the tallest sticks against the Adelaide Crows last week, that’s exactly what Hill did.



For Hill, the importance of Indigenous Round extends beyond simple recognition. It’s a celebration and a chance for education. “I think learning about the broader community and about our past is so important. It’s not just about footy, it’s what goes on outside of footy as well.”

That’s a sentiment that, Hill says, needs to be echoed around the league. Although, it’s especially important at his own club. Collingwood has gained unwanted notoriety for its fraught history with racism and First Nations people. And that’s not just a worn-out sledge perpetuated by rival teams. A 2021 independent review commissioned by the club revealed the “distinct and egregious” prevalence of systemic racism that had permeated every level of Collingwood football, from the fans to the board. To have a player like Hill leading the team and claiming its highest honours is cause for optimism, a sign that progress is being made.

Hill is the 19th man of Aboriginal Australian descent to don Collingwood’s iconic black and white guernsey. The first was Wally Lovett, who last week stressed the importance of Indigenous men like Hill becoming the faces of Collingwood, but emphasised that the count shouldn’t stop at 19. Hill takes a pragmatic view of Lovett’s argument, acknowledging that the AFL has already come a long way, but admitting he “wouldn’t mind seeing more [Indigenous players] out there, especially at Collingwood.”

Emerging as a cornerstone of the Magpies’ attack, Hill has been a major factor in his team’s midseason resurgence, and with his burgeoning relationship with Red Bull, he can now count himself amongst the likes of F1 driver Max Verstappen, world-beating footballer Neymar and basketball star Pascal Siakam as a Red Bull athlete. “I love it so far,” he says. “You see the whole world of Red Bull athletes, and to be among them, I’m still pinching myself really.”

It may all be looking up for Hill, but he’s not one to rest on his laurels. The 24-year-old who has already reached the pinnacle of his sport is still striving for more. And he’s firm in his belief that the Magpies can go back-to-back and win a record 17th premiership this year. “I rate our chances pretty highly,” he says. “We had a slow start, but it’s a long year and we’re starting to play some great footy. We’re progressing every week and we’re definitely capable of doing what we did last year.” It’s hard to disagree with him, but even if Hill never wins another premiership, he’ll continue taking marks, and making them.


INSTAGRAM | @bobby_hill37



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Cayle Reid is a fan of everything sports and fitness. He spends his free time at the gym, on his surfboard or staying up late watching sports in incompatible time zones.

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