Rugby: Higginbotham misses out on Wallabies tour

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw is pulled up from an altercation during the Bledisloe Cup match against the Wallabies. Photo / Getty Images
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw is pulled up from an altercation during the Bledisloe Cup match against the Wallabies. Photo / Getty Images

Scott Higginbotham's moment of madness against All Blacks' skipper Richie McCaw has cost him his place on the Wallabies' European tour.

Serving a two-match suspension, the fiery Queensland flanker was omitted from the 30-man squad named on Thursday, while fellow flanker David Pocock makes his return from injury along with fellow stalwarts Stephen Moore, Berrick Barnes and Digby Ioane.

Australia play Tests against France, England, Italy and Wales with the first Test at Stade de France in Paris on November 10.

Higginbotham was given his ban for kneeing and headbutting McCaw in last Saturday's 18-18 Bledisloe Cup Test draw in Brisbane.

The suspension meant Higginbotham would have to miss the first two Tests, against France and England, and Radike Samo appears to have taken his place in the squad.

With No.8 Wycliff Palu having only recently comeback from injury, and Pocock in the same position, coach Robbie Deans said the Wallabies couldn't carry a loose forward who was unavailable for the first two Tests.

"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," Deans said in an ARU statement.

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

Higginbotham will be on stand-by to join the tour should there be are any injuries.

The squad features an 18-forward, 12-back split, with five props selected to cater for the new arrangements regarding front-row substitutes which requires two props to be included on an eight-man Test reserves bench.

Deans is confident both Pocock (knee) and Moore (hamstring) will hit the ground running on the tour.

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

Barnes returns after recovering from a lung injury suffered against South Africa at Pretoria last month, while Sekope Kepu and Sitaleki Timani are also included after the injuries they sustained against the All Blacks proved less significant than initially feared.

Queensland hooker James Hanson, who made his Test debut during last weekend's draw against New Zealand, won the third hooking berth ahead of his injured Queensland teammate Saia Faingaa, who broke a bone in his hand at training in the lead-up to that match.

Wallabies squad: 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.

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.

- AAP

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