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Higginbotham latest loss for Wallabies

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Australian forward Scott Higginbotham. Picture credit: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

Australian forward Scott Higginbotham. Picture credit: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

Australian forward Scott Higginbotham. Picture credit: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

AUSTRALIA were dealt another injury blow ahead of the upcoming British and Irish Lions series when in-form loose forward Scott Higginbotham was ruled out for the rest of the year with a shoulder injury.

The powerful forward dislocated his right shoulder playing number eight for the Melbourne Rebels in Super Rugby on Saturday, but had been confident of a speedy recovery in time to face the Lions in the three-Test series.

The Wallabies said today, however, that a scan on the injury had revealed extensive ligament damage which would require a full shoulder reconstruction and rule him out of action until the start of the 2014 Super Rugby season.

Australia have already lost openside flankers David Pocock and George Smith, lock Sitaleki Timani, as well as hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau for the series with winger Digby Ioane "touch and go" for the opening Test in Brisbane on June 22.

The Rebels skipper has been in scintillating form in Super Rugby this year with his ball carrying, strong tackling and pilfering at the breakdown making him a certain test starter against the Lions, probably at blindside flanker.

The Wallabies said Higginbotham had asked for privacy until after the surgery was completed as he contemplated missing out on the once in a lifetime opportunity to take on the tourists.

Higginbotham will also miss the Rugby Championship competition against South Africa, New Zealand and Argentina beginning in August, and Australia's end of year tour to Europe.

Australia coach Robbie Deans had already called up Western Force loose forward Ben McCalman to his training squad as cover for the 26-year-old, while Dave Dennis is now favourite to start the first Test in the number six shirt.

McCalman will not play for the Force in today's match against the Lions in Perth because of his involvement in the training squad as Deans has opted to keep his 25-man party out of the Lions' warm up matches.

The New Zealander will add six more players to his squad on Tuesday after the Lions play the Queensland Reds in Brisbane on Saturday.


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