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Young Wellington star Riley Higgins inks deal with Hurricanes

By Tom Vinicombe
Riley Higgins. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

20-year-old Wellington second five-eighth Riley Higgins has put pen to paper for the Hurricanes, signing a two-year deal with the Super Rugby Pacific franchise.

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Higgins – who made his Super Rugby debut before pulling on a Wellington jersey – has been making waves in this year’s NPC season, causing plenty of damage with his searing pace and accurate offloading game in the Lions’ midfield. The youngster has accumulated six matches for the side, dotting down three times throughout their campaign to date, and will be looking to make a big impact in the upcoming finals series.

Earlier this season, Higgins joined the Hurricanes, debuting off the bench against the Fijian Drua in Wellington and becoming one of the youngest debutants in the franchise’s history.

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On signing his first professional Super Rugby contract, Riley said:

“It’s a special moment for me. I think last year, the NDC [National Development Contract] was a great stepping stone into the professional environment, but I am definitely excited to finally get a proper contract with the Hurricanes.”

“Even though I grew up in Christchurch, I was born in Palmy [Palmerston North] and I have always supported the Hurricanes, so it’s a great feeling to be here now,” said Higgins.

Identified by the Hurricanes in 2019 as emerging talent, Higgins progressed through the Wellington and Hurricanes development pathways and was named in the Hurricanes Under 18s and New Zealand Secondary Schools sides in 2020, followed by the Hurricanes Under 20s and New Zealand Under 20s in 2021 and 2022.

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“Riley has come through the academy system and is a good, strong midfielder who we’ve got a lot of time for,” said Hurricanes head coach Jason Holland. “He has a bright future ahead of him.

“Just like many young players, you wait for your time, and work away behind the scenes and now he’s got to that stage. He’s since gone from strength to strength, showing real potential. He’s worked really hard for his spot and is ambitious.”

The former St Patrick’s College Silverstream player captained the Wellington Under 19s at various stages throughout the 2021 and 2022 seasons.

Higgins joins Billy Proctor and Jordie Barrett as midfielders signed with the Hurricanes for next year, while Peter Umaga-Jensen, Bailyn Sullivan and Teihorangi Walden all featured for the side in 2022 and could still feature in the season ahead.

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