Higginbotham rues ‘double punishment’

Scott Higginbotham says he's being punished twice for his assault on Richie McCaw nine days ago. [more]

Higginbotham rues ‘double punishment’

Scott Higginbotham says he’s being punished twice for his assault on Richie McCaw nine days ago.

The combative back row was banned for two games for striking and headbutting McCaw in Australia’s 18-18 draw with New Zealand in Brisbane on October 20.

And while the length of that suspension may not have been as long as some critics predicted, Higginbotham was dropped from the Wallaby squad to tour Europe next month as a result.

The 26-year-old would have sat out the games against France and England and head coach Robbie Deans decided he couldn’t risk taking a player who would definitely be unavailable for 50 per cent of the four tour fixtures.

Higginbotham accepts he brought the disappointing outcome on himself and makes no excuses for his actions but he admits the thought of staying at home while the Wallabies head north is tough to take.

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"It feels like a double punishment," said Higginbotham, after Deans picked Radike Samo as cover for Wycliff Palu who has only just returned from a lengthy injury absence.

"But they have to cover all their areas and they needed a No8 to come on tour to back up Cliffy.

"I copped the two-week penalty and, in that I also missed the tour, it's hard to swallow.

"But if you do the crime you do the time and I guess I'm paying for it now.

"Obviously I am disappointed that I can't tour with the Wallabies.  Any time I miss out on the opportunity to play for my country it kills me."

Higginbotham does at least have a new job to throw himself into after he reported for work with the Rebels this week.

The former Reds forward has left Queensland for Melbourne as he looks to cement his position as a Wallaby regular by the time the Lions come calling.

Higginbotham started all four summer Tests against Scotland and Wales and the first two Rugby Championship fixtures against the All Blacks.

He was on the bench for three of the four remaining tournament fixtures after a back injury ruled him out of the defeat in South Africa and Deans then recalled him to the starting lineup for the trans-Tasman clash at the Suncorp Stadium in which he over stepped the mark after objecting to McCaw’s efforts at an early ruck.

And while he remains hopeful of a late call up if the Wallabies require him against Italy or Wales, he is now looking forward to a fresh start with Australia’s newest franchise.

"The best thing you can do is get back on the horse, work hard and be ready for the next challenge," added Higginbotham.

"If I get the call to go over, obviously I would jump at it. If it doesn't come then I remain focused on playing well for the Rebels and earning back a gold jersey in 2013.

"Having played with a few of the guys in the Wallabies squad helps a little, but spending an off-season getting to know the franchise, my new teammates and the community is something I would not have been able to do from Europe, so that's a positive.

"The best place for me to be is around my new teammates."

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