2nd October 2019, 15:35
Wheelchair centurion hopes to succeed out of the chair in WRL Origin game
West Wales Rugby League host North Wales Origin at Neath RFC this Sunday (kick-off 3pm) with one of the visiting squad hoping to create more records.
Higgins in Wales Wheelchair colours last week
Andrew Rhys Higgins, 21, is unique in rugby league as he plays for two North Wales Crusaders teams – the A side and the Wheelchair outfit.
Last weekend, he was playing for the Wales Wheelchair side in the Tri-Nations tournament, and as well as winning his 26th test cap, he scored his 100th goal, becoming just the second Welsh player to achieve that at international level.
The legendary Jim Sullivan kicked 63 goals for Wales, 60 for Great Britain, seven for England and three for British Empire in a rugby league world record 53 test caps.
And whilst Sullivan, a Wigan and Wales star nearly 100 years ago, played for just one Wales side, Higgins hopes to eventually be the first player to turn out for Wales in both the running and Wheelchair game, the latter allowing to two able bodied players to be on the court in the five-man team.
Higgins, who is currently 19th man for North Wales Origin on Sunday, said: “It’s an honour to reach such a landmark amount of goals, I never thought I’d reach that amount for a club, never mind to do it at international level.
“Now my aim is to represent my country at a second level – Wales Dragonhearts. That would be a dream come true and it’s something I am working towards.
“I started playing Wheelchair Rugby League when I was 15. One of my friends, who can longer play the running game due to epilepsy, asked me to try it out. After my first session I got hooked and loved the fact on how inclusive the sport is. I’ve now been playing for six years but kept on playing rugby league for North Wales Crusaders A.”
He will hope to make it to the bench for a North Wales side that many consider were unlucky to lose 12-10 to East Wales last week.
West are also smarting after a 38-18 loss to East Wales in Neath a fortnight ago. The WRL Origin trophy has now been claimed by East, but this week it’s all about impressing Wales Dragonhearts coach Ian Newbury, as West captain Shane Lee, who has five caps at this level, knows all so well.
He said: “After a tough game against East we are relishing the opportunity to put right some missed mistakes. We have a few changes but we’re ready for this new challenge where places in the Wales Dragonhearts side will be at stake.
“We’re really looking forward to getting back out there this weekend against a tough opposition. North would have been gutted losing by such a narrow margin against East and they’re going to be looking to take a scalp.
“We as a team have to front up and show them what we’re about. A few things didn’t go our way against East but hopefully we can get them right this week.”
WEST WALES: Rhodri Garland (Rhondda Outlaws), Stuart Robson (Bridgend Blue Bulls), Chris Harris (Rhondda Outlaws), Gareth Howells (Bridgend Blue Bulls), Corey Harris (Bridgend Blue Bulls), Shane Lee (c) (Valley Cougars), Ben Jones (Valley Cougars), Taine Hendy (Rhondda Outlaws), Jackson Huntley (Rhondda Outlaws), Jonny Rees (Bridgend Blue Bulls), Kevin James (Rhondda Outlaws), Aaron Lewis (Valley Cougars), Max Hendy (Rhondda Outlaws). Subs: Nathan Morgan (Bridgend Blue Bulls), Kyle Garnett (Cardiff Blue Dragons), Dale Wood (Bridgend Blue Bulls), Ben Rees (Bridgend Blue Bulls), Sam Pridgeon (Valley Cougars). Reserve Players: Adam Parry (Cardiff Blue Dragons), Scott Forrester (Bridgend Blue Bulls), Jamie Marsh (Valley Cougars).
NORTH WALES ORIGIN: Connah Harding (North Wales Crusaders A), Tom Bradfield (Chester Gladiators), Dan Crabtree (Ulverston), Henri Roberts (North Wales Crusaders A), Finn Swift (Pilkington Recs), Morgan Johnson (North Wales Crusaders A), Ryan Griffiths (Ince Rose Bridge), Paul Welch (Chester Gladiators), George Morris (North Wales Crusaders A), Luca Owen-Youens (North Wales Crusaders A), William Mills (North Wales Crusaders A), Ben Stelmaszek (Thatto Heath Crusaders), Morgan Nicholas (Latchford Albion). Subs: Corie Shorrock (Bangor University), Billy Forrester (Thatto Heath Crusaders), Jacob Hitchcox (North Wales Crusaders A), Alfie Mathias (North Wales Crusaders A). Reserve Player: Andrew Rhys Higgins (North Wales Crusaders A).