Rugby - Tri-Nations

Higginbotham ready for All Blacks

Australia's Scott Higginbotham is relishing the chance to take on New Zealand from the start in their Bledisloe Cup clash on Saturday.

 
Higginbotham ready for NZ - Rugby - Tri-NationsAFP
 

The abrasive back-rower will make his first start against the world champions at ANZ Stadium, having previously only managed two cameos off the bench against the All Blacks.

Higginbotham said: "I've never started against the All Blacks and I haven't played too many minutes against them, I don't even think I've played a full half against them so it's very exciting."

He added: "I've obviously had that extra time to prepare in the background and learn everything, but not actually put it into practice. But I played just about all 80 minutes in every game of the Wales series so I'm prepared and excited."

Higginbotham has primarily been used at blindside flanker at Test level, but will start at number eight in place of the injured Wycliff Palu (shoulder).

He claimed he was equally comfortable on the side or at the back of the scrum. "For me personally they're both quite similar positions, six and eight. There's a little bit of difference off the scrum, but it doesn't change the lineout or any phase play," he said.

"He's (Palu) a big guy and he's very good at getting over the advantage line. I'd like to think that I can do what he does and hopefully I can and, with Dave Dennis there as well, it helps a lot. We're both good runners of the ball and we enjoy that part of the game."

Dennis will wear number six in what will be his first Test match against the All Blacks.

"It's massive. No disrespect to the teams I've played before, but this is the world's best team and it's for a Bledisloe Cup," Dennis said.

Saturday's match is the first of three Bledisloe Cup encounters this year and also doubles as the tournament opener of the inaugural Rugby Championship, which also features South Africa and Argentina.

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