Smith full of praise for Higham

Warrington head coach Tony Smith believes hooker Mickey Higham is in the form of his life going into Sunday’s Challenge Cup semi-final with Hull FC.

Higham, 32, has so far missed only two of the club’s 25 league and cup matches, and Smith is full of praise for the hooker.

“If there’s been a more consistent player in the competition this year, I can’t think of one,” said Smith, who as England coach took Higham to the 2008 World Cup in Australia.

“He’s always been a terrific runner of the ball but he’s a far more complete player nowadays.

“People used to run over him but that doesn’t happen any more. He is a very good defender. Teams try to wear him out but he faces up to that and he still hurts them with his running game.

“We’ve got some terrific young talented hookers in the competition but, if you need some experience and reliability, you could do far worse than Mickey. He wouldn’t let anybody down.”

Higham himself is focusing on Sunday’s opposite number, Danny Houghton, who has also been earning plaudits for his form this year.

Houghton, 24, frequently plays 80 minutes, with back-up hooker Aaron Heremaia needed in the halves, and consistently produces high-quality performances.

“You do get atuned to playing a full game, but it’s a massive effort from him because his work-rate is phenomenal as well,” said Higham.

“He’s a great player who is in great form and it will be a key battle out there this week. I like playing against Danny, he plays it the right way as well.”

The Wolves, who have won the cup in three of the last four years, will go into Sunday’s semi-final as clear favourites after winning their last eight matches.

The Black and Whites of Hull have lost their last five Super League games, but they pulled off a surprise in the last round against Catalan Dragons and were the last team to beat the Wolves, something which is not lost on Higham.

He said, “They came here a few months back and did a real job on us. We played quite well that night, they were just better than us.

“We’re not big on revenge – but we were hurting that night.”

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