Macquarie coach Adam Bettridge knows all too well what kind of impact Liam Higgins can have on a rugby league field.
The hooker received the JJ “Mo” Wilson Medal as man-of-the-match in the Newcastle grand final of 2016, with Higgins’ Souths accounting for Bettridge’s Scorpions.
Three years on and the pair will join forces at Toronto.
Higgins has signed with Macquarie in 2019, returning home to the region after one season north of the state border for Queensland Cup squad the Sunshine Coast Falcons.
“He’s a good addition for us,” mentor Bettridge said.
Macquarie collected the wooden spoon last year after capping off three straight grand final appearances with a drought breaking premiership in 2017.
NRL Rookie contestant Chris Hyde was the captain of that championship winning side, but left the Scorpions for Central Coast club Woy Woy straight afterwards in 2018.
Bettridge said Higgins would help fill that void at dummy half.
“We didn’t really have a hooker last year,” Bettridge said.
“Todd Hurrell did his best to fill in there, but he’s more of a lock. Liam Higgins is an out-and-out hooker. He will add a lot around the ruck and is an attacking threat in the middle.”
Higgins’ younger brother Luke was part of Souths’ title win last year.
Both siblings played together for Souths in the club’s 2016 success, following in the footsteps of father Craig who claimed the Newcastle trophy with Waratah in 1990.
The 28-year-old, who grew up in Raymond Terrace, went to Souths after a stint with NRL club Manly in under 20s and NSW Cup.
Higgins played a National Youth Competition finals series for the Sea Eagles in 2009 alongside the likes of Daly Cherry-Evans, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Kieran Foran, William Hopoate, Darcy Lussick and Jamie Buhrer.
Macquarie have also signed Ben Roose and Royce Geoffrey for 2019 while Bobby Tracey returns on a full-time basis from the Newcastle Knights reserve grade squad.
The Scorpions resume pre-season training on Tuesday.
The opening round of this season’s premiership will be held at the weekend of April 13 and 14.
Macquarie will travel to take on Kurri Kurri on the Saturday. Kurri finished fifth on the 2018 ladder.