Higginbotham cleared to return to Reds

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Scott Higginbotham could suit up for the Reds in their preseason trial against the Rebels on Tuesday night, allowed to return to training immediately.

Higginbotham was being investigated by the ARU integrity unit after being charged with assaulting a police officer earlier this month and the national body released a statement on Monday issuing no punishment for the 30-year-old.

The backrower will still have to face court over the matter on February 21, but the ARU was comfortable that no further sanction was required in the short-term, an Integrity Unit spokesperson said in a statement.

“After finalising our initial investigation the ARU is comfortable to allow Scott Higginbotham to resume his training and playing commitments with the Reds, until such time as the Police matter is resolved,” the statement read.

"Scott has cooperated with the investigation and has been reminded of how seriously the ARU takes off-field behaviour. There is a Police matter which is ongoing and no determination on any sanctions will be made until that reaches a conclusion."

QRU CEO Richard Barker told RUGBY.com.au on Monday that he had met with Higginbotham’s parents following the incident and had also discussed the challenges of returning home with the new Queesnsland recruit in recent times.

“To get that call on Sunday, I was really angry, as was (head coach) Nick Stiles,”- Richard Barker

“We know now that it doesn't seem to be what we were all thinking it could've been but one week back in the team, one week back at training - I had a catch up with him on the Friday and he was saying how demanding it's been, how challenging it's been, how different it is to come back here.

“The thing is, he's not a young kid, but we've got to let the process run its course.

Richard Barker has been appointed Queensland Reds CEO. Photo: QRU Media“We were angry and upset because of the work that we've done but we're not going to let one of those detract from where we need to be.

“We've made that pretty clear.

“Scott's had a few conversations with Nick and I.

“We've spoken to Scott's parents about it...and it is out of character.”

The Reds take on the Rebels at Ballymore on Tuesday night, with both sides yet to announce their teams.