WRFU Academy Profile: Kienan Higgins (Northern United)

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Photo: Hugh Pretorius

“I like to play what’s in front of me. When given the freedom to express myself my confidence grows,” Kienan Higgins responds when asked to describe the strengths of his game.

In 2015, it was this free spirited approach that caught the eye of Christian Cullen on Sky’s First XV coverage.

The legendary former All Black was commentating St Pat’s Silverstream’s 38-27 win over Wellington College and identified Silverstream’s Higgins as his choice for man of the match, despite a hat-trick by Higgins’ teammate Tarquinn Alatipi.

In 2018, Higgins has joined the Northern United club not far from when he lives in Titahi Bay. On ANZAC Day he scored his first two Premier tries in a 36-13 win against Johnsonville. 

The flair showcased against Wellington College in Year 11 and now in senior rugby at Norths wasn’t always evident in Higgins’ first two seasons in the First XV. Silverstream won no major silverware and made a habit of losing winnable games, ten times blowing halftime leads. Later in 2015, Higgins surprisingly missed a sitter of a penalty to draw a traditional fixture against Palmerston North Boys’ High School.

Silverstream’s struggles were nothing compared to the personal grief Higgins was suffering. 

In 2014 his father died suddenly and tragically.

“Dad was my biggest critic and supporter. I always think of dad when I play. He was always encouraging me to be better,” Higgins acclaims.

In 2017 things were much better. Higgins started to find his feet again and Silverstream enjoyed an all-conquering season winning the Premier I title and all six traditional fixtures.

In the Premiership final, Higgins was named man of the match in the 17-11 triumph over Wellington College.

“The team last year were all good mates off the field which led to our chemistry on the field. We had a superstar ten who led from the front and that made my job in the midfield easier,” Higgins reflects. 

Better was to come for Higgins when he was selected for the New Zealand Barbarians and started in wins against Tonga Schools and the New Zealand Under-18 Maori. In the later contest Higgins two tries were the difference in the slender 28-24 victory.

He joined Norths this season, and made his Premier debut at second five-eighth in their round one 22-20 win over Petone. 

“The biggest thing I’ve learnt in club rugby is that it’s much more physical than First XV rugby. I’ve had to get bigger and wear some knocks,” Higgins reveals.

Higgins was born in Palmerston North and spent a brief period in Christchurch. His mother Babette is a school teacher and his younger brother Riley, a Wellington Under-16 representative, is likely to play First XV rugby at Silverstream this year.


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Celebrity Crush: Selena Gomez & Todd Svenson
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Favourite Subject: English with Ms Kirton
Favourite Food: KFC
Favourite Quote: “Everything happens for a reason”