ARU should open selection: Higginbotham

Melbourne Rebels skipper and Wallaby back-rower Scott Higginbotham says the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) should open Test eligibility to all rather than put a number on it.

In a change of policy, overseas players are now eligible for Wallaby selection if they meet the criteria of having played at least 60 Tests and also held contracts with the ARU for seven seasons or more.

To Higginbotham, who has 31 Test caps, the horse has already bolted with flexible deals on offer and players eligible to play for Australia by signing a Super Rugby deal for the following season, such as former NSW Waratah Dean Mumm.

“I think it’s a bit ridiculous to put a number on this sort of thing,” Higginbotham told AAP.

“They’re at a point where they’re letting blokes play overseas and then come back, like Bernard Foley.

“To then put a limit on your 60 caps or years signed with the ARU, it’s a bit of a waste of time.

“You’ve already said to Foley and those guys you can come back and play so you should just open it up to everyone.

“I can’t see what they’re trying to achieve.”

Higginbotham believed it was inevitable the ARU would open the selection door with enough players unhappy with the strict ruling.

The 28-year-old will leave the Rebels to play one season in Japan after the Rugby World Cup.

He hasn’t ruled out returning to Super Rugby after that.

Higginbotham doesn’t have the same flexible ARU deal as the likes of Foley but says his stance isn’t sour grapes.

“There was never that option on the table,” he said.

“But that’s fine, I’m happy with my decision and content with what I’m doing next year.”

Despite the exodus of Australian Super Rugby players post-World Cup, including former Test captains James Horwill and Will Genia, Higginbotham doesn’t believe the home teams will suffer.

“There’s always new guys coming through,” he said.

“Guys want to play in Australia initially because playing Super Rugby is a great way to make a name for yourself.”

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