Adam Hills enthusiastic to ‘open Rugby League to a new audience’ as Channel 4 Super League host

Adam Hills says that the opportunity to bring a new audience to Rugby League persuaded him to take on the role of presenting Channel 4’s Super League coverage.

Comedian and presenter Hills will front the first live free-to-air matches in the history of Super League this season, starting this Saturday when Leeds Rhinos host Warrington Wolves, the club Hills plays Physical Disability Rugby League for.

He will be joined by Helen Skelton as reporter and Mark Wilson as commentator, while the first live match will have a punditry team of Danika Priim, Leon Pryce and Sam Tomkins.

“My first thought was ‘get an expert’,” said Hills on when he was first approached about the role.

“If you want to do the sport justice, get people involved that know what they’re talking about. Yes, I love it, and I’ve played, but you want a proper expert in charge.

“But then when Channel 4 explained that they want to find a way of opening Rugby League to a new audience, they want someone who can almost translate between the experts and the people who might not have watched Rugby League before. That’s when I said ‘okay, I’ll do it.'”

Hills is well aware of the inclusive nature of Rugby League and showcasing the entire sport, not just Super League, as part of the Channel 4 coverage is one of his aims in presenting the game.

“I think it will look slightly cooler,” he said. “When Channel 4 first started broadcasting the Paralympics, they made it look amazing. They’re definitely going to do that with this.

“I think from talking to the producers what we’re going to try and emphasise is the inclusive nature of Rugby League, how much of a family it is.

“To the point where a lot of things we’ll do being will be on the pitch. If a player wanders pass and wants to have a chat, feel free.

Hills added: “For me, Rugby League is not just about Super League. It’s about all the leagues, the women’s game, the wheelchair game.

“If you’re talking about Rugby League, you’re talking about how inclusive it is. For me, all of it feeds together. And for new people discovering Rugby League, that’s one of the joys of it, how community-minded it is.”

He is also keen to rope a few celebrities into the game and bring out the “closet Rugby League fans”.

“We’re thinking of doing it where we get some celebrity faces who’ve never experienced Rugby League before to come along and experience it, but also we want to entice out the Rugby League fans,” said Hills.

“I was on Chris Evans’ radio show last Friday and said ‘do you want to come up’, and he said ‘yeah, can I?’ People like Chris Evans, Stuart Pearce.

“So a bit of both. We want new faces coming along and experiencing it, but we want the faces that everyone knows who are almost like closet Rugby League fans to come out of the closet.”