Rory-Wounded Tiger slowly clawing his way back



From Realfooty

Wounded Tiger slowly clawing his way back
By Chloe Saltau
January 13 2003

The occasional twinge in a muscle of Rory Hilton's left arm is the only reminder of the moment that defined, and ended, his season last year.

In one respect, the dislocated shoulder and the complications that followed amounted to just another long-term injury for the young Tiger, with all the frustrations that were so familiar to him from injuries past.

In another, the manner in which the joint was ripped from his socket against Melbourne in round three ensured that while Hilton was gone from the football field, he was not forgotten.

Hilton's instinctive decision to throw himself into the path of David Neitz as the Demon captain steamed out of the forward line was instantly etched into the minds of Richmond folk as the ultimate act of sacrifice.

Hilton was collected by Neitz and trotted off the ground with his arm hanging by his side, bound for hospital. That night, coach Danny Frawley hailed him as the man whose fearlessness had possessed his teammates with the will to go on and win the game.

"I think I ran from the half-forward flank to cut off the lead and I was one second too early or one second too late. David Neitz is a pretty big fella," Hilton said.

"In a way it's probably been good in the sense that when you get injured, sometimes you feel a bit like a forgotten person. But I guess with the hype that surrounded the injury, you don't want to create that sort of drama. I was a bit embarrassed by it, really."

Still, the sheepishness Hilton felt at being lauded as a hero for a split-second piece of play had nothing on the frustration that set in as it emerged he had done more damage than first thought and, around the middle of the year, was told he must join knee victims Marc Dragicevic and Ben Holland on the sidelines for the rest of the season. This after both player and team had enjoyed a 2001 season so full of promise.

"Realistically it was going to be 10 weeks, so I'd get back around the split round. It was all going fine, but the auxillary nerve had been damaged and it wasn't allowing the deltoid muscle to function. I couldn't lift my arm, and it stayed that way for about three months," Hilton recalled.

One specialist told him if the damage to the nerve was much greater it might have threatened not only his season but his football career. "That was a bit frightening and there were some stages where it wasn't healing that quickly, then it would have a burst for a month or so and go really well."

That Hilton, who played less than two-and-a-half games of football, was still an important off-field presence was shown when, at the best-and-fairest presentation, Frawley bestowed on him the award for best club man. "I don't think I did a lot and I don't think I handled the injury too well, but I did the training and I got to stages where . . . I'd get a bit of a lift," he said.

Now the shoulder and nerve have healed, giving Hilton real reason for optimism as the new season draws closer and Richmond prepares to improve on its dismal 2002, when it finished 14th after playing in a preliminary final the previous year.

"I'm hoping to start off on the half-back flank and just play some footy, really. I will have had about 12 months out of football, but at the same time I like to set goals and achieve them," Hilton said.

"I still get a little bit of pain in the muscle where the nerve is probably still a little bit aggravated, but I'm doing everything now and feeling comfortable and confident about this year."


Tiger Matchwinner
Dec 18, 2002
When there"s talk of players who will step up to the plate in any given year its usually the likes of richo ottens gas rodan coughlan etc that are on the lips of many. The player that is hilton rarely gets nominated as 1 of those that could really have an impact on richmonds fortunes but for rory to justify his position, this year must be the year that he shows a marked improvement in all facets of his game.

Maybe some overestimate his value to the side but there was a great deal of optimism when he first crossed over from brisbane in 99 however the stats reveal that he at best is only good average player for the side despite glimpses of what he could be.

He has been accused of being unacountable and paying little respect to his direct opponent/s and going missing. The week he recieved his injury he was only included back in the side because of a late withdrawl by another player and i felt that he was trying to prove to coaches he was willing show his value to the side.

Even though he will probably start off at half back this season where do others think that rory's best position is if he is to lift his impact for the club?

2001 was probably his best year and i recall that he played quiet well as another forward type contributing 24 goals 18 behinds and though its unlikely he would get a gig as a permanent forward i liked his ability to convert his crumbing chances.

As for the best position for rory to play i'll pass it on to others but rory must show are marked improvement this year despite coming back from injury,if not the wolves might be at the door.

Despite my rather negative appraisal of rory i hope he is 1 that we can say really contributed to the tigers chances in 2003.


I don't know where would be the best position for Rory, but he might have to work pretty hard to find a permanant spot in the team.
There are a few new kids on the block since Rory last played.
I feel he was restricted by his suspensions and in trying to hold back a bit he wasn't playing his natural game.
He is 23 and coming out of contract. I like Rory's toughness and play when he's doing well but he needs to be consistant or he might find that footy has passed him by.
I hope he eases in and gains confidence, then has a really good second half of the season.
We'll be a far better team if that happens imo.
Go Rory.


Tiger Legend
Dec 18, 2002
If Hilts can discover a defensive side to his game instead of just attacking and doin that flairy crap we will be a much better side for it.
Dont get me wrong I like the guy..... just have doubts on his abilities to man up consistently.... from memory every time he has been in the backline his opponent does as he pleases.....
Dont risk it! Put him on a forward flank a wing or the bench IMO