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Rookie watch: Higgins ready to fly family flag on big stage

Ahead of the rescheduled NRL Telstra Women's Premiership, NRL.com profiles the next crop of talent ready to make their mark in 2022.

Rookie snapshot

  • Name: Olivia Higgins
  • Age: 28
  • NRLW club: Roosters
  • Position: Hooker

Roosters rookie Olivia Higgins may be a late bloomer after beginning her rugby league journey in 2018 but for the past three years has risen up the ranks after starting out in league tag.

The Newcastle-based high school teacher has grown up around the game since she was a child with her father Craig and brothers Luke and Liam prominent rugby league figures from the region. 

Olivia is aiming to become the first family member to play for an NRL club.

"My dad played league his whole life in Newcastle and for the Bears in Sydney," Higgins told NRL.com.

"He's coached my brothers right through so I've always been around the game and then I finally decided to give it a go after playing league tag. 

"I've kept working my way up. I started at five-eighth but transitioned to hooker in the past couple of years."

Higgins spent the 2020 Harvey Norman NSW Premiership season as a back-up to retired NSW hooker Kylie Hilder while playing for the Central Coast Roosters.

Central Coast Roosters 2021 season highlights

It was from there she's learned from Hilder and in 2021 she filled the void left by the NSW coach as a starting dummy half as the Central Coast went through undefeated in the regular rounds.

"Playing last year when Kylie was in the nine jersey, I could watch things that she did to control the game," Higgins said.

"That was an aspect of my game I wanted to work on. She also wasn't afraid to make crucial decisions. I learned a lot from that while on the bench.

"I felt like I was having a much better year [in 2021] with more game time and starting after that but then the competition was cancelled due to COVID."

Higgins was told by Roosters NRLW coach John Strange, who is also the Central Coast coach, of where she needed to improve throughout the 2021 state season to earn a contract with the NRLW club. 

She is now one of 12 possible debutantes at the Roosters in line for an NRLW debut.

"It's surreal, I didn't think I'd ever play for an NRL side. I've watched it for the last few years but never thought I'd make it," Higgins said.

"It was a bit of a lightbulb moment for me when Strangey said I was in the frame of getting a contract. I know it's going to be a huge step up from what I'm used to.

Southwell discusses the upcoming Roosters NRLW campaign

"It's an awesome squad, we have a mixture of girls who have played for ages and then a few who are a bit unknown so that's exciting.

"It's made it a really easy transition because I've played with most of those girls for two years at the Central Coast."

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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