Rugby - Higginbotham extends Wallabies deal

Australia back row forward Scott Higginbotham has extended his deal with the Wallabies until after the 2015 World Cup and is hoping a series triumph against the British and Irish Lions this year will be the start of a string of successes.

Reuters
Rugby - Captaincy keeps hard man Higginbotham in check
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Scott Higginbotham (AFP)

The 26-year-old has played mainly as blindside flanker in his 23 internationals since his debut in the 59-16 hammering of France in Paris in 2010 but can also play at number eight.

Higginbotham played 10 of 15 Wallabies tests last year and thought the crippling injury toll that forced coach Robbie Deans to blood so many players in 2012 would pay dividends against the Lions in June and July.

"Guys that have gained a bit of test experience are stepping up, the competition for places is as tight as I've ever seen it," Higginbotham said.

"That's a great thing for Australian Rugby, both for the Lions series, but also looking ahead. That was a big reason for staying. We are in a position where the Wallabies are only going to get better.

"Winning the Tri Nations in 2011 was special but I'd like to win a series over the Lions, get my hands on the Rugby Championship, the Bledisloe Cup and the World Cup if possible, before I look at doing something else."

Higginbotham has put in a string of standout performances for the Melbourne Rebels in Super Rugby since making the switch from the Queensland Reds this season, showcasing his mobility with ball in hand and even, in one case, his footballing skills.

Deans said this week he thought replacing injured Welshman Gareth Delve as captain of the Rebels had been good for Higginbotham.

"Scotty's responding really well to captaincy," the New Zealander said.

"You can't ask something of people around you if you are not up for it yourself. That's brought a real consistency to his approach to the game and it's probably stimulated him to be fair. It's got him thinking about what's important."

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