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Regrets? I've got none for McCaw, says Higginbotham

Drawing the line ... Higginbotham knees McCaw.

Drawing the line ... Higginbotham knees McCaw. Photo: Fox Sports

FLORENCE: Wallabies back-rower Scott Higginbotham said he regretted nothing about the headbutt and knee on Richie McCaw that earned him a two-game ban in Brisbane last month.

Higginbotham said the suspension, his first in a four-year professional career, showed him where the line may lie between niggle and citation, but would not change his trademark gritty playing style.

''I don't regret anything I did, it was just football, I suppose,'' he said. ''I don't think I'd really change anything … I've been playing for a number of years now, and seeing as that's the first [suspension] I think I'm doing all right, to be honest.''

Higginbotham joined the Wallabies squad the morning of their redemptive Test against England after close friend and former Reds teammate Rob Simmons earned an eight-week suspension for a lifting tackle on France flanker Yannick Nyanga and Kane Douglas was ruled out of the England match with a knee injury.

It was a call-up he was not expecting, having flown to Melbourne to join his new teammates at the Rebels after receiving the suspension.

Higginbotham said he was ''filthy'' the ban cost him his spot on the spring tour initially. ''It was a tough week because straight after the game I got told I was getting cited on both counts,'' he said. ''It took about a day or so and then I got the call and the suspension and then I had to wait another couple of days to find out whether I was going on tour so that was three blows in the space of a week … I was pretty filthy that I wasn't going on tour.''

Happy to be available against Italy this weekend and fresh from two weeks' tough pre-season training in Melbourne, Higginbotham said the incident had taught him a lesson.

''That really did point out where you could get to and where to draw the line,'' he said. ''It's a physical game but I suppose it taught me that off the ball stuff you can leave out of it, I guess.''

The Wallabies will be boosted by his athleticism and tough on-field presence against Italy, who will be stinging from a sub-par performance against Tonga and a loss to New Zealand.

Simmons is still with the group while the Wallabies await paperwork from the Six Nations judicial committee that banned him for eight weeks. They are still considering an appeal against the ban.

Second-rower Cadeyrn Neville and centre Mitch Inman are also with the camp in Florence after arriving in London on Sunday as back-ups for Simmons, Douglas and centre Pat McCabe.

Higginbotham said he was surprised by Simmons's punishment. ''I honestly thought he'd get a slap on the wrist, maybe a game,'' he said. ''I wasn't holding my breath [for a call-up], I didn't want to get my hopes up then hear I'm not going over.''

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