Port Stephens product Olivia Higgins stars for NSW against Maroons

NSW Origin hooker Olivia Higgins has turned in skillful performances for the Sky Blues against Queensland in her debut series.

LAPPING up pressure and performing in big matches has become second nature to local women’s rugby league hero and pin up girl Olivia Higgins.

Still reeling from last week’s heartbreaking 11-10 Origin loss to Queensland in front of a record crowd at Newcastle’s McDonald Jones Stadium, the skilful hooker from Raymond Terrace is now preparing for the game of her life.

Higgins produced a strong Origin debut performance to help NSW topple the Maroons 22-12 in the opening game at Suncorp Stadium last month and backed it up with another solid effort in wet conditions in front of a partisan and mammoth home crowd of 25,782 last Thursday.

All eyes will be on the crafty number nine when the Sky Blues travel to Townsville for the series decider on June 27.

Since capturing her first NRLW premiership with the Sydney Roosters in 2021, the talented Higgins has developed into one of the best female rugby league forwards to emerge from the Port Stephens region.

Now entrenched in the champion Newcastle Knights line-up and with three NRLW premiership rings in her grasp, a determined Olivia has prospered from a step up in class to the Origin representative arena.

She impressed selectors with her wily performances as the Knights secured back-to-back titles and earned a call-up to the NSW squad this year with fellow Knights prop Caitlan Johnston and second rower Yasmin Clydsdale.

It has been a fascinating rugby league journey to date for 31-year-old Higgins, who was discovered in the Aberglassyn Ants junior system.

Newcastle NRLW Head coach Ben Jeffries told News Of The Area that Higgins would again play a key role in the club’s quest for a premiership trifecta.

“Olivia has been a mainstay of our forward pack in recent seasons and thoroughly deserved her selection in the NSW Origin squad,” he revealed.

“She has made the most of her opportunities in two appearances to date and is eager to help the Sky Blues regain the Origin trophy,” the Knights mentor quipped.

The astute Jeffries believes Newcastle have the class and depth of talent to push their claims for a third successive title in 2024.

Since commencing his new role at the Knights after guiding the North Queensland Cowboys fortunes last season, Jeffries has been working across all levels of female participation and development pathway programs.

Newcastle will parade a host of internationals led by champion fullback Tamika Upton, Hannah and Jesse Southwell and Shanice Parker plus New Zealand rugby converts Isabella Waterman and Grace Kukutai.

Raymond Terrace Roosters junior Lilly-Ann White – an Australian Schoolgirls star from Tea Gardens – has joined the Knights top squad as a development player after skippering the Knights to this year’s Under 19s Tarsha Gale Cup Grand Final.

Newcastle kick-off their 2024 NRLW campaign against the Sydney Roosters on Thursday July 25 at McDonald Jones Stadium.

By Chris KARAS

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