Tearful tributes at Hughes’ funeral

Tearful tributes have flowed for the young cricketer as thousands watched his funeral service – either packed into the school hall in his coastal home town of Macksville or via live television feeds around the country.

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Hughes’s cousin Nino Ramunno told the service Phillip was “was one of a kind, a young kid from the country who dared to dream big.”

But Hughes was also “Boof” – so nicknamed for his size as a baby, he was a mummy’s boy, and he was fond of a mirror, handy with an iron to ensure his clothes and his appearance were always at their best.

Mr Ramunno told how Hughes’s cricket career began accidentally when big brother Jason asked him to fill a gap in his Under 10s team.

Hughes said no at first, but relented.

He scored 25 as a tailender and his love of the game was born.

When Jason stood to speak, he said goodbye to the brother who was “destined to be a rock star”, by reading a moving letter of farewell.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better little brother,” Mr Hughes said.

As their parents Greg and Virginia wept in the front row of the congregation, Mr Hughes said his fondest memories were of the epic backyard cricket battles where his brother honed the skills that would make him a national star.

“Now it’s time to say goodbye bra, I miss you,” he said. 

Hughes’ sister Megan said said she’d miss her brother’s smile, “the twinkle in your eyes” and his humour.

“I want to thank you for being the most amazing brother anyone could ever ask for,” Ms Hughes said.

Farmer, friend and business partner Corey Ireland told of Hughes’s little-known passion for cattle – in particular his beloved herd of Angus cows that he hoped to grow to 600 head.

“He spent every spare moment thinking about his cattle, researching genetics and planning his next move,” Mr Ireland said.

Mr Ireland said he and Hughes were “well down the track” on making real the cricketer’s 10-year plan to have his own stud of Angus cattle for his life after the game.

Mr Ireland said he became used to midnight phone calls from around the world and requests for photos of a cow or bull Hughes wanted to know more about.

When they spoke by about cattle, Hughes was at his happiest, he said.

“I’m happy Corey Ireland, I’m all teeth’, was what he would say,” Mr Ireland said.

Australian cricket captain Michael Clarke paid tribute last and fought back tears as he told the packed hall he now felt Hughes’ spirit with him at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

“I lent down to the SCG grass … I swear he was with me,” he said.

“It’s now forever the place where he fell.”

Sobbing, Clarke said Hughes would “call me a sook” if he saw him.

“We must dig in and get through to tea and we must play on,” he said.

“Rest in peace my little brother, I’ll see you out in the middle.”

Clarke was one of eight pallbearers including Gregory and Jason Hughes to carry the casket out of the Macksville High school hall.

Thousands of mourners then followed the hearse in a mass procession through Macksville to a private wake.