Higginbotham to become a Rebel?

Mon, 14 May 2012 00:00
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The Melbourne Rebels are rumoured to be courting Scott Higginbotham, as the Reds No.8 is regarded as the ideal replacement for Gareth Delve.

The Melbourne Rebels are rumoured to be courting Scott Higginbotham, as the Reds No.8 is regarded as the ideal replacement for Gareth Delve.

Delve has been captaining the Rebels this season in the absence of Stirling Mortlock, but the Welshman will be leaving the Melbourne franchise at the end of the season to join French Top 14 club Toulon.

Higginbotham has been in good form for the Reds this season and stands a good chance of adding to his 11 Wallaby Test caps this year.

However, the 25-year-old's contract with the Queensland side expires at the end of the season and has yet to be successfully re-negotiated.

The salary cap that the Reds, Waratahs, Brumbies and Western Force must adhere to appears to be crippling the Reds, who have been trying to re-sign the men who helped them win the Super Rugby title last year.

With several Reds stars expecting improved deals there might not be enough money in the budget under the salary cap regulations to hold onto all their stars. While star scrumhalf Will Genia has signed a new deal, the big names yet to re-commit are Higginbotham and Quade Cooper.

"He (Higginbotham) would have to be player of interest to us if he was available," Melbourne Chief Executive Steve Boland told AAP. "We've had no formal talks about Scott Higginbotham at this stage."

Boland added that the Rebels still had six to eight positions they would like to fill for the 2013 Super Rugby season.

The 34-year-old Mortlock hasn't made a decision on his playing future, while veteran utility back Mark Gerrard's contract has not been renewed at this stage.

Another player who could negotiate a new deal is English flank Michael Lipman, who played a big role in the Rebels' surprise 28-19 victory over the Crusaders.

"We told a number of the players we'd be having a look over the next three to four weeks... and Michael's certainly a player we're still really interested in," Boland said.

Boland also explained that there was no truth in the rumours that openside flank Jarrod Saffy's neck injury had ended his playing career.

"I sat next to Jarrod at the Crusaders game and he's got some scans he's going to undertake in the next eight weeks, but the prognosis is really good," Boland said.

"He's really confident he'll be able to get back to training by October-November."

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