MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Former Wallabies back-rower Scott Higginbotham has been cleared to play for the Queensland Reds after the Australian Rugby Union completed an “initial” investigation into his arrest and charging for assault on police in Brisbane last week.
The 30-year-old, who played the last of his 32 tests in 2015, was involved in an incident at a police station in Fortitude Valley, a lively bar district in the Queensland state capital.
He was charged with “one count each of assaulting police and being found in a police establishment without a lawful excuse”, Queensland police said.
He is scheduled to face court next week.
“After finalising our initial investigation the ARU is comfortable to allow Scott Higginbotham to resume his training and playing commitments with the Reds, until such time as the police matter is resolved,” an ARU spokesman said on Monday.
”Scott has cooperated with the investigation and has been reminded of how seriously the ARU takes off-field behaviour.
“There is a police matter which is ongoing and no determination on any sanctions will be made until that reaches a conclusion.”
Higginbotham last year signed a long-term deal to return to the Reds, who he helped to the 2011 Super Rugby title, after two seasons at the Melbourne Rebels and a spell in Japan.
The Reds named him in an extended reserves for their final pre-season match against the Rebels at Ballymore Stadium on Tuesday.
Queensland Rugby Union CEO Richard Barker said the Reds were “angry and upset” with Higginbotham after being informed of the incident but he suggested it was not as serious as they first believed.
“We know now that it doesn’t seem to be what we were all thinking it could’ve been,” said Barker, who had also discussed the incident with Higginbotham’s parents.
”I had a catch-up with him on the Friday and he was saying how demanding it’s been, how challenging it’s been, how different it is to come back here.
“The thing is, he’s not a young kid but we’ve got to let the process run its course.”
The Reds host South Africa’s Sharks in their Super Rugby season-opener at Lang Park on Feb. 24.
Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by John O'Brien