Higginbotham out of Wallabies with dislocated shoulder
MELBOURNE Rebels captain Scott Higginbotham was in Brisbane yesterday, and not in camp in Sydney as Wallabies coach Robbie Deans had planned.
The backrower was one of three players to drop out of the Wallabies 25-man preliminary squad for the British and Irish Lions series after dislocating his shoulder in the 33-20 defeat against the Reds at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.
He had scans yesterday, and officials hope to discover the full extent of the injury today.
Higginbotham's injury sees Western Force loose forward Ben McCalman re-join the Wallabies after a 12-month absence, having missed all of last year's Test season through injury.
McCalman was due to play for the Force against the Lions in their first game on Australian soil in Perth on Wednesday.
While Higginbotham now faces an anxious wait to see if he will take any part in the three-Test series against the Lions, which starts in Brisbane on June 22, his Rebels teammate, and housemate, halfback Nick Phipps, now has an opportunity to press his claim to feature.
He replaced Queensland Reds winger Digby Ioane in the squad after Ioane had surgery on his left knee last week, and although he cannot train, he still joined the squad in Sydney to continue his rehabilitation.
Phipps, who played nine Tests last year, is now the second halfback in the squad alongside Queenslander Will Genia, and he cannot wait to get started in camp.
"I guess, like every other player in the country, I'm desperate to have a crack at the Lions. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity, one that a lot of players don't get," he said.
Waratahs lock Sitaleki Timani is the other absentee after suffering a suspected broken thumb against the Crusaders on Friday - he has been replaced by teammate Kane Douglas.
Deans will add another six players to his squad on June 11.