Charting the remarkable rise of Wigan Warriors’ proud Cumbrian prop Harvie Hill

Ross Heppenstall
Harvie Hill Wigan Warriors Alamy

Harvie Hill celebrates Wigan Warriors' triumph in the World Club Challenge against Penrith Panthers

When Wigan Warriors famously, dramatically – gloriously – toppled NRL kings Penrith Panthers in the World Club Challenge, it was a victory for spirit.

A win chiselled on the kind of collective desire which the club is built upon and runs through their DNA.

Watch Wigan teams from scholarship to first team level and you see the same kind of traits; physicality, aggression, a refusal to take a backward step.

And no little skill either, of course.

But it was that willingness to put your body on the line for the cause which characterised the Penrith game at the DW Stadium on February 24.

An exquisite piece of defending from Jai Field saw him deny Taylan May a try in the corner late on.

When Penrith roused themselves for one last effort and seemed to have scored a levelling try with seconds remaining as May dived for the line, Abbas Miski and Field combined to keep him out.

Those two moments won Wigan the game but do not overlook the contribution of young prop Harvie Hill off the bench.

The imposing 20-year-old from Whitehaven went toe to toe with Penrith’s pack and emerged with his reputation enhanced.

Former Wigan star Sam Tomkins told Love Rugby League after the game: “I was really impressed with Harvie Hill against Penrith.

“He’s a 20-year-old prop up against some of the best forwards in the world and he was moving better than some of these blokes who are getting paid a million dollars.

“That’s desire and is something that can’t really be taught.

“That’s certainly part of Wigan’s DNA. They recruit young players who come in and don’t stop.

DON’T MISS: Ranking every Super League club by number of academy products fielded in 2024 

World Club Challenge triumph a ‘career highlight’ so far for Harvie Hill

The son of former Oldham and Whitehaven player, Howard Hill, was spotted by Wigan scouts whilst playing for Hensingham against Wigan St Patricks in the Under-14s National Cup.

He was snapped up and subsequently progressed through the Warriors academy system.

Hill was named the club’s Academy Player of the Year in 2021 and went on to make his first team debut, alongside six other players, in 2022.

He made over a dozen Super League appearances last season as Matt Peet’s side were crowned champions at Old Trafford.

With six Super League games, two tries and two Challenge Cup appearances under his belt so far in 2024 – plus that World Club Challenge outing against Penrith – Hill’s stock continues to rise.

Speaking to Love Rugby League after last Sunday’s 60-6 win at Castleford Tigers in the Challenge Cup quarter-finals, Hill said: “I’d like to think I’m becoming a regular member of the team.

“But we’ll see what happens in the following weeks.

“The World Club Challenge was a fantastic experience and an occasion I really enjoyed.

“We were obviously up against the best in the NRL and these were players I had watched on telly.

“They’re a class side, but we just kept going and going and got the win.

“It was brilliant to be a part of and definitely a career highlight so far.

“Everyone loved it – all the lads, the club, the fans and my family. It was a great night.”

Like father, like son

Howard Hill Oldham Alamy
Harvie’s dad, Howard Hill, in action for Oldham in 1997

Hill began playing rugby league as a seven-year-old and has been immersed in the sport ever since.

The influence of his father has been important as he explains: “I was a kid who watched rugby league, played rugby league and wanted to be around it all the time.

“I went all round the country watching my dad when he was playing for Whitehaven. That was a great experience too.”

Cumbria is a beautiful part of the world but they breed their rugby league players tough.

“That’s true, but it’s a county which is a bit tucked away so there’s a lot of talent which doesn’t get recognised up there,” added Hill.

“That’s tough, but I think if we can get more Cumbrian boys down here it would be great.”

Many Cumbrians follow Wigan as their Super League team and Hill is doing his home county proud.

“When there are big games at Wigan, a lot of people come down on buses from Cumbria,” he said.

“I’m proud to be from Cumbria, of course I am.

“I played for my local amateur team, Hensingham, right the way through and then joined Wigan on scholarship before coming right the way through to the first team.”

Hill served up a typically no-nonsense display in last Sunday’s demolition of Castleford.

Wigan were superior in every department as they took the Tigers to the cleaners.

“That’s what we strive for – being fast, aggressive, skilful and executing our chances,” explained Hill.

“There were parts of the game against Castleford where we didn’t execute, so that’s something to work on, but overall it was a good performance.”

LRL RECOMMENDS: Wigan Warriors’ Liam Marshall lifts lid on family grief, newborn daughter and Matt Peet’s incredible gesture

Harvie Hill not looking too far ahead as he strives for improvement

Harvie Hill Wigan Warriors Alamy
Harvie Hill applauds the Wigan fans

Hill denied suggestions his targets for the season include bettering last season’s number of first team appearances.

“No, not really, my aim is just to improve myself,” he insisted.

“I’m still young in the middle, so I’ve got some good role models there in Luke Thompson and all those boys who I can look up to and learn things from each day.”

Hill has represented England Knights against France and Scotland but had not read the lavish praise heaped on him by Tomkins after his display against Penrith.

“It’s good to hear, obviously, but I just need to focus on my game and keep improving,” he said.

“My dad comes to the games to support me but when it comes to giving me advice, he just keeps out of it because he knows how good the coaches are here.

“What are my long-term goals? I think every young players strives to be the best.

“I just need to keep working hard and see where it takes me.”

READ NEXT: Wigan Warriors coach Matt Peet provides update on injured duo as Mike Cooper returns