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Challenge Cup Draw Adds Another Twist to the Micky Higham Saga

Warrington’s home-tie against Leigh in the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup next month certainly raises a few questions.

Can Leigh add another Super League scalp to their impressive cup run? Will the Centurions make the semi-finals for the first time since 1971? And which side will Micky Higham line-up for?

Following persistent rumours in recent weeks of an audacious bid by Leigh to sign the veteran hooker from the Wolves with immediate effect, Warrington released a statement last week confirming that although a bid was made the club had rejected the move.

The 34 year-old is still a big part of head coach Tony Smith’s plans and is currently in his seventh season at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.

In a Wolves side full of emerging young talent, Higham’s experience is key.

With fellow hooker and reigning man-of-steel Daryl Clark sidelined at the moment with a knee injury, Higham is required to step-up during the England international’s absence and dictate the play from dummy-half.

Youngster Brad Dwyer has been recalled from his loan at London Broncos, and although he impressed in the Wolves’ 52-10 Challenge Cup victory over Dewsbury, asking the 22-year old to bridge the gap left by Higham and Clark could prove to be too much responsibility.

Despite Warrington rejecting the bid last week, the saga rumbles on and Higham’s absence from the team on Friday night only adds to the speculation that a move could still happen.

Warrington first-team coach Richard Agar confirmed after Friday’s match that Higham was not in the right frame of mind to play and the player will sit down for talks with Tony Smith this week.

Agar told the press following the win away at Dewsbury: “Was Micky rested? You could say that.

“We’ve had a difficult week. I think it’s been well documented some of the stuff that’s gone on and we just didn’t feel that Micky was in the right place to play.”

It has also become apparent that Leigh approached Higham first rather than the club in the hope of persuading the former England international to return to the club which he started his career at.

Higham isn’t the first experienced Super League player the Centurions have chased this season after landing forward Gareth Hock from Salford earlier in the campaign.

The Championship leaders have also activated the option to extend 35 year-old Fuifui Moimoi’s stay at the club for a further year, with head coach Paul Rowley understanding the need for experience in order for his side to reach the Super League and then maintain their stay in the elite division.

Higham is also sought after as cover for vice-captain Sean Penkywicz who has been out of the side since the start of April through injury.

Leigh have won 25 consecutive matches; a run which dates back to last July. Their wins in the Challenge Cup over Wakefield and Salford indicate that they could succeed in the Qualifiers later this year and earn a Super League spot in 2016.

Whether Higham joins the Leigh side that challenges for a place in Super League next season or stays at Warrington to have one last attempt at Grand Final success this year remains to be seen.

When the Wolves and the Centurions line-up at the Halliwell Jones Stadium in five weeks time, Higham could well have switched allegiance and be looking to inflict misery on his current side.

Trainee sports journalist at News Associates, Manchester, UK.

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