Higgins eager to build on her solid start in Six Nations

By Daire Walsh

HAVING waited almost four years to pick up her first international rugby cap at 15s, Lucan native Eve Higgins found herself thrown in at the deep end for Ireland in their recent Women’s Six Nations Championship campaign.

A member of the training squad in advance of the 2017 World Cup, the former Coláiste Cois Life student has featured prominently on the Sevens circuit in recent years.

Eve Higgins 1

Lucan’s Eve Higgins will be hoping she will get more game time with the Ireland 15s after a solid Six Nations debut

A prolonged hiatus for rugby’s alternative code ensured Higgins was able to transition into the 15-a-side game and started all three matches at outside centre as Ireland recorded a respectable third-place finish in a revamped Six Nations.

“It was obviously tough coming in. I’ve watched 15s growing up and that was all I watched when I was a kid, but it’s completely different when you’re in that role. Especially at 13, it’s a lot defensively you have to work on,” Higgins said.

“I probably hammered Kieran [Hallett], our defensive coach, a lot with clips throughout training, but we were lucky enough to have 20 plus camps under our belt. When I got the chance for the Wales game, I had a bit of practice going into it.

“The benefit in a way of COVID was the fact that we got to train as a squad a lot together. It was tough, there was a lot of competition, especially for the centre partnership. I was delighted to put my hand up for that selection and thankfully play in each game.”

Either side of a heavy defeat at the hands of France, Ireland enjoyed convincing wins over both Wales and Italy. The latter victory came in a third place play-off at Energia Park and Adam Griggs’ side are set to renew acquaintances with the Italians in a World Cup qualifying tournament later this year.

For Higgins and her team-mates, reaching next year’s global finals in New Zealand remains the principle target in 2021.

“We have a lot of improvements to do, but I think we’ll be happy enough with some of the stuff we’ve done. With the young players coming through, I think we’re tighter as a group now. Obviously Italy we’ll have in the World Cup qualifiers.

“It was a big game for us to just work on the improvements from the French game, but also put a stamp down for the World Cup qualifiers coming up.”

While the past few weeks has seen Higgins establishing herself as the main centre partner to Sene Naoupu at the international 15s grade, she remains on a full-time contract in the IRFU’s Sevens programme. As the year goes on, the UCD student will seek to strike a balance between both codes.

“With 15s, we’ve six weeks off and then focus on the World Cup qualifiers. I hopefully will be playing Sevens as well throughout the summer, but then obviously focusing back onto the World Cup qualifiers. I’ll be training with both probably. Either way, it’s a chance to represent the country. We’ll just see what comes in the next few months,” she added.

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