Chris Heighington hasn't embraced the interchange bench despite his form and figures improving greatly. Copyright: Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

Heighington continues overcoming obstacles

Tireless Cronulla Sharks back-rower Chris Heighington has faced several obstacles throughout his 232-game career in the NRL – obstacles he has made his own since debuting in 2003.

The first hurdle emerged when his valid claims for further honours with Country and NSW fell on deaf ears. Heighington, feeling he deserved more jumped ship to England and ended up played in the Four Nations in 2011. 

Another hurdle was soon made apparent in 2012 when the Wests Tigers signalled they had no plans to re-sign the back-rower. A man that was once upon time the most capped player at the club shook it off and furthered the trend of Tigers signing with the Sharks.

Fast-forward to 2014 and the veteran Heighington has had another obstacle block his path – the interchange bench. 

While he has been named to start the last fortnight for the Sharks, when it comes to kick-off Heighington has found himself warming the bench instead of teammate Tinirau Arona.

Not afraid to tell you how it is, Heighington made it known to NRL.com how he felt about his latest dilemma.

"I'd rather start. I'm not enjoying mate but what can you do?" Heighington said.

Commenting on his own game, Heighington seems to be reasonably happy with his form in 2014 despite the Sharks slow start to the season.

"I'm trying my best but it's hard when you're losing but hopefully we, as a team, will hit a bit of form soon," Heighington said.


While the bench is a relative new thing to the 31 year-old, his coach Peter Sharp has given Heighington one task when entering the fray.

"Just bring impact," Heighington said.

"It's a big role you have to do, obviously you've got to have a good 17 to win NRL games so he just wants me bringing impact off the bench."

If his recent figures are anything to go by Heighington has brought impact to the Sharks outfit and then some. Since starting from the bench, Heighington has produced five offloads, a tackle break and a line-break assist, averaging 22 tackles and 16.5 runs for 133.3 metres. 

While it remains to be seen whether he starts on the interchange or not, after again being named to start in this weekend's game against the Sydney Roosters, Heighington will have to tread carefully if he wants to get back into the starting 13.

His solid work off the bench has proven that he's made this latest obstacle his own, yet this just may encourage coach Sharp to keep him there.