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Scott Higginbotham tips Lion-hearted effort from Wales

  
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28/11/2012
By Bret Harris (The Australian)


Wallabies blindside flanker Scott Higginbotham believes last impressions will count when it comes to selection for the British and Irish Lions tour of Australia next year. 

Australia completes its tour of Europe with a Test against Wales in Cardiff on Sunday -- its last game before the Lions arrive in Australia next June.
 
Wales is coached by Lions coach Warren Gatland, so a good performance against the Welsh would not harm any player's prospects.
 
"With the Lions tour coming up next year, you want to play well in your last Test," Higginbotham said. "There's not too many games in Super Rugby before that (tour) kicks off and they start picking sides.
 
"I don't think it will all be based just on this game but it is important. It's probably more important for them."
 
Higginbotham, who missed the first two Tests of the tour, against France and England, because of suspension, was looking forward to playing Wales with a game under his belt against Italy in Florence last Sunday.
 
"Game fitness is a different thing," he said. "You can go through a whole pre-season and have top scores in all your fitness, but it really doesn't mean anything. As soon as you step on that field, it goes out the window a little bit.
 
"It might just be first-game-back syndrome. It was a tough game," he said of the Italy Test.
 
As well, Higginbotham is suffering travel fatigue. "I don't think I felt too fresh," he said. "It's hard being on tour and being confined to a hotel. You are on a fairly tight schedule, with training and everything. You can't get out and do what you normally do at home. That's the sort of fatigue that gets most of the boys on these long tours."
 
The backrower also found Italy's ability to play hard on the ball across the field very physically demanding. "We knew they covered us there," he said. "They did that against the All Blacks the week before.
 
"It wasn't a surprise, they are just tough. They obviously do a lot of work, from 1 to 15. It's not just the loose forwards who are getting over the ball, it's the outside backs as well, which makes it hard at that wide breakdown."
 
Higginbotham expects Wales to mirror Italy and attack the Wallabies at the wide breakdown. "In the games I've played against them, their back row has been very tough," Higginbotham said. "If they watched Italy play us, they will take a leaf out of their book and challenge us at the breakdown out wide."