Phillip Hughes’ home town on the NSW mid-north coast is in shock and coming to grips with the loss of their favourite son.
The Macksville community is in mourning following the death of Hughes – two days after they were willing him on in his fight for a Test recall.
The son of a banana farmer, the left-hander with the unorthodox, home-spun batting technique was close to their hearts after breaking into the NSW side at 18 and then making his Test debut at 20.
The Nambucca Valley Shire Council immediately joined the Macksville Ex-Services Junior Cricket Club and Bowraville Rugby League in sending their condolences in a joint statement when the sad news broke on Thursday.
“Macksville is a strong and close community,” the statement said. “We are all shocked and saddened by what has happened to Phillip.
“We are all very proud of Phillip’s achievements and will remember him fondly as a favourite son.
“Phillip enjoyed returning home to spend time on the farm with his family and was always the warm unaffected country boy who was such a delight to be around.”
Speaking as Hughes fought for his life in Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital, local barman and champion sportsman Chris MacDonald said Hughes’ plight had hit the small town of Macksville hard.
“You can certainly feel it over the whole town. Every time you run into anyone, it’s the first thing people talk about,” MacDonald told AAP on Thursday.
MacDonald played alongside Greg Inglis’s father in Macksville’s Group 2 rugby league grand final win over Coffs Harbour in 1995.
Since then, MacDonald has watched Hughes, 25, and Inglis, 27, grow up to become heroes in the community.
“We all watched them grow up. They came through together,” he said.
“Phillip, he’s such a likeable guy. Whenever he comes home, he’s just Phillip Hughes from East Street, Macksville.
“He doesn’t walk around with any airs or graces. Everyone’s just proud of him.”
Like MacDonald and the rest of the local community, NRL superstar Inglis was quick to send his sympathies to the Hughes family – parents Greg and Virginia and siblings Megan and Jason.
“Thinking about the family.. I’m so sad to hear this news.. Another great mate taken too soon R.I.P #PhillipHughes you true champion,” Inglis tweeted.