Sydney - Wallaby Scott Higginbotham insists he doesn't regret kneeing and
headbutting Richie McCaw but admits learning a lesson from the incident
which initially cost him a place on the Wallabies' Europe rugby tour.
According to stuff.co.nz website, a gruelling training regimen back in Melbourne has the aggressive
flank ready to hit the ground running for Australia against Italy in
Florence on Saturday after serving a two-match suspension.
Coincidentally it was a hefty eight-week suspension handed to his
close friend Rob Simmons that resulted in Higginbotham's call up to the
tour for the final two games against Italy and Wales.
The Rebels' recruit would almost certainly have played in
the opening two Tests - the loss to France and win over England - if not
for the ban he copped for kneeing and headbutting All Blacks captain
McCaw in the drawn Brisbane Bledisloe Cup Test.
"I was obviously pretty filthy that I wasn't coming on tour,"
recalled Higginbotham as the Wallabies travelled from London to Italy.
"I don't regret anything I did. It's just football, I suppose."
But he admitted learning a lesson about pushing the boundaries from the suspension.
"It really did point out where you can get to and where to draw the line," he said.
"It's a physical game but I suppose it (the ban) taught me that that
stuff, the off the ball stuff, you can leave out of it I guess."
Former Reds' player Higginbotham is considered a strong
chance to take over at blindside flanker from Dave Dennis against Italy
The 26-year-old Higginbotham said he felt for Simmons, who was outed for a lifting tackle in the France Test.
"I obviously watched the game and seeing what Simmo had done I
honestly thought he'd get a slap on the wrist, maybe a game," he said.
"Simmo and I are close friends. We've sat next to each other on the
bus for about three years, so it's strange how it just had to be him who
gets in trouble," he said.
Higginbotham said he did his best to overcome his own disappointment
when he missed tour selection by bringing forward his move from
Brisbane to Melbourne and getting back to work.
"I just decided seeing as I wasn't going on tour I'd go down to
Melbourne and at least train for a month down there while the boys were
over here," he said.
"That's the first pre-season I've done in a couple of years now. It was tough.
"It's been good training and good getting that sort of fitness again. Not just game fitness but actual running fitness."
Higginbotham enjoyed a couple of beers with his Wallabies' team-mates
after watching their win over England at Twickenham and was proud of
the side for answering their critics after the shocking effort against
"From all the media and everything that was going on at home it was
obviously a big challenge for them ... but they all knew that and got
the job done which was great."