Higginbotham still hopeful of Test recall

International
AAP
by AAP

Former Wallabies No.8 Scott Higginbotham is not giving up hope of a Test return this year.

The 30-year-old is back with the Queensland Reds after wrapping up his two-year stint with Japanese Top League club NEC Green Rockets last weekend.

A spot will open up in Australia's back row this year because of David Pocock's one-year rugby sabbatical but Higginbotham said he had no idea if he factors into coach Michael Cheika's plans.

"Who knows," Higginbotham said. "You never say you've given it up.

"(But) like a lot of players - Liam Gill included, probably - you come to the understanding that it's out of your hands.

"I'll be playing football to the best of my ability and whatever happens from that happens. It's not my choice in the end."

Capped 32 times for the Wallabies, Higginbotham's last Test was Australia's last-gasp win over South Africa at Suncorp Stadium in July 2015.
Cheika will need a new No.8 to replace Pocock and a strong season from Higginbotham could put him right in the frame, along with Sean McMahon and Lopeti Timani, who also played in that position for the Wallabies last year.
He will begin training with the Reds next week.

Ex-teammates Quade Cooper, Stephen Moore and Leroy Houston have also returned to the franchise for second stints.

"There's a lot of good memories here. Blokes want to come back and they've got a certain amount of feeling towards the jersey," Higginbotham said.

"That's great, it'll show in the football hopefully."
From young bull to old bull. The only Reds players yet to report for pre-season duty are George Smith and Hendrik Tui, who have just helped Suntory Sungoliath win the Japanese Top League title.

They are due back in late February.

"I actually watched (Smith) play last weekend in Japan and you could have fooled me that he's 36 or whatever. I'd say he'd be 25. He's a fantastic player," Higginbotham said.

As for Queensland's chances in Super Rugby this year, Higginbotham isn't getting carried away with talk they could top the Australian conference.

"Watching how difficult it was for the Australian teams last season against the New Zealand and South Africa franchises, everyone's got a long way to go," he said.

"I think anyone's a chance."

The Queensland Reds kick off their Super Rugby campaign against the Durban Sharks at Suncorp Stadium on February 24. Memberships can be purchased at www.redsrugby.com.au

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