Centurian Higginbotham sees plenty of upside for Reds

Super Rugby
by Emma Greenwood

Plenty of people are predicting big things for the Reds in the next few years.

But few have the perspective of Scott Higginbotham, who will play his 100th game for Queensland against the Jaguares on Saturday night.

The 32-year-old made his Super Rugby debut in 2008 and won a title with the Reds in 2011 before leaving in 2013 to play with the Rebels and then in Japan before making his way back to Ballymore.

His journey - which includes captaining the Reds in 2018 - gives him a unique perspective to comment on the health of the franchise and he sees genuine promise going forward.

"To come back at this point in my career, there's definitely been a lot of improvement around the club and in the playing group, especially with the young guys coming through - the skill level and maturity of these young guys, I can only see positive steps going forward for Queensland Rugby," he said.

"You see the improvement just this year - it's only 14 games so far - yes, the Highlanders was a great outing for us at the start of the year but we obviously slumped back a bit.

Scott Higginbotham will play his 100th game for the Reds against the Jaguares on Saturday night. Photo: QRU Media/Brendan Hertel

"We've had some great wins but if you  just look at the games as a whole and how the team is gelling and playing together, there's a huge difference.

"Hopefully more guys get a bit more Test experience this year with a World Cup under their belts.

"I think there's some really great things to come."

Higginbotham joins an impressive list of players to have racked up 100 games for the Reds, including Andrew Slack, Michael Lynagh and Quade Cooper.

"There's a pretty special list of blokes previous to me that have reached this milestone and also a couple of close friends who have previously reached it," Higginbotham said.

"I never really looked at rugby as a career path but I always enjoyed the game and loved playing.

"And I like to think of myself as a passionate Queenslander, so to be able to represent my state and achieve this kind of milestone for my home state is something I'm really proud of."

Higginbotham never expected to reach such heights, especially after leaving the Reds, although it was always a goal.

"I got to just over 50 caps when I was previously at the Reds - in my second-last year got that milestone - and once I knew I was going to get to 50, it was always that goal in the back of my head that I'd like to get to 100," he said.

"Everyone would like to get to 100 for their club but I never thought that would happen when I ended up overseas and down in Melbourne.

"But it's funny how things work out and as potentially my last year in Super Rugby, it's fantastic to be able to achieve that goal."

Higginbotham will take on an impressive forward pack on Saturday night when he lines up against the Jaguares but it will be nothing compared to his Super Rugby debut against the Bulls in 2008 as a 21-year-old.

"I'll never forget that. I played alongside another good friend of mine, Poutasi Luafutu who I was living with at the time," he said.

"So it's something I won't forget.

Scott Higginbotham of the Reds is tackled during the round 12 Super Rugby match between the Reds and the Sunwolves at Suncorp Stadium. Photo: Getty Images

"The biggest thing I noticed was the size of the blokes and the contact at the Super Rugby level.

"Definitely the first game coming up against the Bulls - they were a big bunch of blokes back then, I guess they still are.

"Feeling that contact around ruck time and copping knees and elbows and everything - a lot of stuff off the ball which isn't in the game now but definitely was back then - that was probably the biggest jump for me."

The Reds take on the Jaguares at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday, May 29, kicking off at 7:45pm, live on Fox Sports, Kayo Sports and via RUGBY.com.au radio.