Annoyed Reds coach stands down Higginbotham
RUGBY: Scott Higginbotham has copped the "extreme annoyance" of angry Reds coach Nick Stiles on the chin and has been stood down from training until his police incident is investigated.
Stiles was impressively on the front foot today when insisting he wouldn't let the dumb act of a profile recruit hijack all the gains the Reds have made through five months of tough, off-season toil.
Higginbotham was charged with one count each of assaulting police and being found in a police establishment without a lawful cause after an incident in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley at around 1.30am last Sunday.
The 32-Test Wallaby is alleged to have been involved in a disturbance after appearing at the Brunswick Street Police Beat where a friend had been taken for urinating in public late on a night out.
"I'm extremely disappointed and extremely annoyed," Stiles said.
"There are so many good things I'd prefer to talk about with the Reds and here we are talking about an incident with a player.
"I'm really frustrated when this day should have been all about the arrival of George Smith, one of the great Wallabies, in Reds colours for the first time."
Stiles indicated strongly and with obvious passion that Higginbotham had let down himself and the entire squad when "respect and earning it is one of the things we talk about most of all."
Stiles revealed he had spoken to a chastened Higginbotham numerous times last Sunday, after the police incident.
"In talking to Scott, we agreed it was best he not train with the squad for the next few days until the findings of the investigation by the Australian Rugby Union's integrity unit," Stiles said.
"As a coach, I deal in facts and it's very important to get the facts right before decisions on this so let's wait and see over the next few days.
"Once they conclude the findings we'll talk about the subsequent repercussions."
Higginbotham is due to appear in Brisbane Magistrates Court on February 21 and his place in the Reds' only pre-season trial against the Melbourne Rebels on February 14 at Ballymore is in serious jeopardy.
"I know Scott is extremely disappointed in what he did."
The decorated Smith, 36, was straight into his first weights sessions with the Reds today at Ballymore in Brisbane just eight days after leading Suntory to the All-Japan Championship.
"It's hot here, isn't it?," Smith said as he tried to stem a deluge of sweat on his brow.