Pocock returns but Scott stays home

David Pocock, Stephen Moore and Berrick Barnes have all been included in the Wallaby squad to tour Europe but Scott Higginbotham misses out. [more]

Pocock returns but Scott stays home

David Pocock, Stephen Moore and Berrick Barnes have all been included in the Wallaby squad to tour Europe but Scott Higginbotham misses out.

Flanker Pocock, hooker Moore and utility back Barnes all return from injury but Higginbotham has been overlooked after last week’s attack on Richie McCaw saw him suspended for two games.

The Reds back rower would have missed the opening fixtures in Paris and London and head coach Robbie Deans has decided he cannot afford to carry a player who won’t be available for 50 per cent of their fixtures.

"To have included Scott within the 30 would have created an additional challenge in terms of selection for the opening two matches which would have compromised the group," said Deans.

"Scott was aware once he was suspended that this was a possibility."

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The return of Pocock in particular is a huge boost for the Lions’ next opponents, though, as they prepare to face France, England, Italy and Wales on successive Saturdays.

Pocock hasn’t played for his country since damaging his knee in the opening Rugby Championship defeat to New Zealand and had initially hinted that he would be staying at home to continue his rehab.

Moore, who is on the brink of becoming Australia’s most-capped hooker, has missed the last five internationals with a hamstring problem, while Barnes couldn’t feature in the away win over Argentina or Saturday’s draw with the All Blacks due to a punctured lung.

First-choice wing Digby Ioane is another big name to be included after injury issues, with the Reds flyer having recovered from a knee problem.

Prop Sekope Kepu and second row Sitaleki Timani are also fit to feature after the injuries they sustained in the third Bledisloe Cup clash in Brisbane proved less significant than at first feared.

"Poey has done very well… he's still got a bit to do in terms of being available to be selected but he's clearly going to be available and hence he's coming with us," added Deans.

"As well as being proven Test performers with valuable experience in the conditions that we will face on this tour, both (Pocock and Moore) also provide a significant leadership element which will add to what is still a relatively young group."

Veteran lock Nathan Sharpe will continue to captain the side in the absence of James Horwill despite fellow stand-in skipper Pocock’s return.

Hooker Saia Fainga'a could have been fit in time for the final fixture in Cardiff on December 1 but his broken hand means James Hanson takes his place despite only having 20 minutes of Test action under his belt.

Waratahs prop Paddy Ryan is the only uncapped player in the squad.

Wallabies squad

Backs: Nick Phipps, Brett Sheehan, Kurtley Beale, Berrick Barnes, Pat McCabe, Anthony Faingaa, Ben Tapuai, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Digby Ioane, Nick Cummins, Drew Mitchell, Mike Harris

Forwards: Benn Robinson, James Slipper, Sekope Kepu, Ben Alexander, Paddy Ryan, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Stephen Moore, James Hanson, Nathan Sharpe (capt), Sitaleki Timani, Kane Douglas, Rob Simmons, Dave Dennis, David Pocock, Michael Hooper, Liam Gill, Wycliff Palu, Radike Samo

Australia’s autumn fixtures

v France, Saturday November 10, Stade de France
v England, Saturday November 17, Twickenham
v Italy, Saturday November 24, Franchi Stadium, Florence
v Wales, Saturday December 1, Millennium Stadium

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