Quickfire Q & A: Micky Higham (Leigh Centurions)

The long-serving Leigh Centurion is hanging up his boots, but not before taking time out to answer a few of your most searching enquiries about his career.

Man of Kent: Congratulations on a great playing career, Micky. Will you be staying on in the greatest game?

Up to now yeah, they’ve given me a coaching role on the strength and conditioning side and see how it goes.

Barry Badrinath: Was playing at Bradford ever actually an option, or did they just help Wigan out with the transfer from Saints?

Basically, they did just help with the transfer but there was just a slight chance. I was willing to make it happen, but it didn’t. There was like a 5% chance.

JDINTHEHIZZOUSE: Who was the best player you played with/against?

Ah, it’s so hard to answer. Adrian Morley is up there. I was lucky enough to play with him in his prime and I only played him a few times for the Roosters, and he tore us to pieces that day.

Jamie Peacock was another, for some reason he always ran at me. He was quality was JP. Then you’ve got Sean Long, Paul Sculthorpe, Lee Briers. Briersy, you’d play against him and you weren’t sure, then you’d play with him and you’d realise, yep, he’s quality. He kinda got away with things sometimes, but Tony Smith certainly made him a better player

Eddie: Which is the bigger club, Wigan or Saints?

*Laughs* Jeez, who threw that one in?! If you go abroad or to a non-rugby town, Wigan is the first one that’s mentioned. But I don’t know, I think it’s a pretty level playing field. I’ve answered that one like a politician! They’re two massive clubs, but going back a long way, Wigan has that history, but Saints have come good!

Bedfordshire Bronco: Toughest tackler you ever came across / hardest player to tackle ever?

Behind me? Ha! I’m trying to think of players who you know have cracked you when they tackle. There were no bad tacklers other than your classic halfbacks who’d stand on the wing and hide! I’ll tell you who was hard to tackle though, Keith Senior, it was like tackling a bleeding post box.

Bedfordshire Bronco: Would you win in a fight with Gaz Hock?

Oh, me no problem. I’d have to run for hour and a half then tire him out. But yeah, think you know the answer to that one. I’m glad I played alongside him more than against him, he’s fairly handy is Gaz!

Bartholemew Smythe: Are you glad that you returned to Leigh and finished your career?

Yeah. It was something I always had in the back of my mind. I’d have hated to go back and took the money, I wanted to help, do a job and have an influence. I think the time was right, I’d come to an end at Warrington and in the end we got promoted and I was captain, I just wish I’d have played longer in Super League with Leigh, that’s one thing that frustrates me.

Kayakman: What were your first impressions of Toronto and have they changed over time?

You know what, until you go out there and experience it, you do change your opinion. The people were dead warm and welcoming, dead supporting. Me personally, there were a few who knew who I was, and I was shocked. I had Canadians congratulating me on a great career. I thought they just went for a social. It’s just the travel that’s a challenge for me, getting your sleep patterns right and so on when you travel on a Thursday and play Saturday. But other than that, it is pretty decent, I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it was. Whether it works in Super League, we’ll have to wait and see.

Gooleboy: After having such a distinguished career, looking back, which team did you have your toughest battles against?

In my early Saints days, it was always Wigan. When I was at Warrington, I’d have to say Wigan were a thorn in our sides. You know you have to be at your best and don’t stop until minute 80. It’s always those Wigan lads playing for their local town, when you pull that shirt on you get an extra mile, I’m a believer in that

Wigan Riversider: Is teaching a tougher career choice than TGG?

I have an hour with some kids, and I feel like I’ve played a game so it’s equal measure!

Louise Woodward-Styles: What can we do to help the sport grow commercially?

We’ve just got to sell it more. The World Cup Nines haven’t been advertised anywhere but on Twitter. I had to ask my young lad to check the phone for the fixtures on Sky and they weren’t even on there, and this is a World Cup! We undersell it. When people around me watch it, they get hooked. We just have to show more perseverance and have more creative people in. I went to the Man of Steel awards and you can see they’re trying things, that was decent. The skill on show was insane, that should be advertised on Sky Sports. Get more ex-players involved, their input. Look at NRL, they’re all ex-players on pitch side and stuff.

Richard Windle: How much did you enjoy your time at Bradford?

Short and sweet I’ll put it that way. I didn’t get my bag of training kit which was disappointing!

Barry Jones: Are you really retired again, or are the boots really tied up?

The studs have gone from the bottom, I’m done for good… I think.

Gavin Quinn: In your early days did you ever think about a stint in the NRL?

To be honest, I didn’t, but I had a few convos and looking back I should have pursued that. I got a card from Manly but as a young lad you don’t give it much thought. Then when I’d just signed for Wire, Ian Millward rang and said Canberra wanted me. But I was loyal to that. I got an offer later in my career at about 33 from St George Illawarra to go in as backup hooker. Mike Cooper gave me a glowing reference, but Tony Smith put me off! He told me if it didn’t work out, I might struggle to get another chance.

Sarah Parmenter: Are there any moments in your career that you would of do differently?

I don’t know really because I prided myself on training as hard as I could and trying my best. I hung myself on giving 100%. Potentially maybe work on a few aspects of my game earlier on skill wise, but I’m not too sure really, I never lacked effort to be honest.

Emma Broadhead: Who are your rugby heroes?

Certainly I liked watching Ellery Hanley. In his prime he was fantastic to watch. I used to love Phil McKenzie and the battle between Saints and Widnes back then. But Ellery was certainly my favourite.

This feature was first published in Rugby League World (Issue 463, Nov 2019)