Fiery flanker's folly cuts him from tour

SCOTT Higginbotham's moment of madness against All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw has cost him his place on the Wallabies' European tour.

Serving a two-match suspension, the fiery Queensland flanker (pictured right) was omitted from the 30-man squad named yesterday, while fellow flanker David Pocock made his return from injury with fellow stalwarts Stephen Moore, Berrick Barnes and Digby Ioane.

Veteran Nathan Sharpe has retained the captaincy in a squad that features just one uncapped player in NSW prop Paddy Ryan.

Australia play Tests against France, England, Italy and Wales with the first Test at Stade de France in Paris on November 10.

Higginbotham was given his ban for kneeing and headbutting McCaw in last Saturday's 18-18 Bledisloe Cup Test draw in Brisbane.

The suspension meant Higginbotham would have to miss the first two Tests, against France and England, and Radike Samo appears to have taken his place in the squad.

With No.8 Wycliff Palu having only recently come back from injury, and Pocock in the same position, coach Robbie Deans said the Wallabies could not carry a loose forward who was unavailable for the first two Tests.

"To have included Scott within the 30 would have created an additional challenge in terms of selection for the opening two matches, which would have compromised the group.

"Scott was aware once he was suspended that this was a possibility," Deans said.

Higginbotham will be on stand-by to join the tour should there be any injuries.

The squad features an 18-forward, 12-back split, with five props selected to cater for the new arrangements regarding front-row substitutes, which require two props to be included on an eight-man Test reserves bench.

Deans is confident Pocock (knee) and Moore (hamstring) will hit the ground running on the tour.

"As well as being proven Test performers with valuable experience in the conditions that we will face on this tour, both also provide a significant leadership element, which will add to what is still a relatively young group," Deans said.

Barnes returns after recovering from a lung injury suffered against South Africa at Pretoria last month, while Sekope Kepu and Sitaleki Timani are also included after the injuries they sustained against the All Blacks proved less significant than initially feared.

Queensland hooker James Hanson, who made his Test debut during last weekend's draw against New Zealand, won the third hooking berth ahead of his injured Queensland teammate Saia Faingaa, who broke a bone in his hand before that match. AAP

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