Scott Higginbotham takes part in a Wallabies training session.
Scott Higginbotham takes part in a Wallabies training session. DAN HIMBRECHTS

Reds add Higginbotham to list of signings

RUGBY UNION: Wallabies loose forward Scott Higginbotham is officially back at Ballymore on a three-year deal.

The Queensland Reds have confirmed their 38-man squad for the 2017 Super Rugby season, with 13 new signings in total joining the ranks.

The squad also includes the return of Wallabies Quade Cooper (from Toulon), Stephen Moore (Brumbies) and Leroy Houston (Bath), as well as the new signings of George Smith (Wasps) and former Broncos Caleb Timu and Lachlan Maranta.

Higginbotham will join the squad at the completion of his contract with Japanese club NEC Green Rockets early next year.

The back-rower, with 32 Test appearances for the Wallabies, as well as 64 for the Reds and 109 overall in Super Rugby, was a major part of Queensland's 2011 championship, before departing for the Rebels in 2013, and ultimately to Japan at the end of the 2015 season.

The 2017 squad features substantial experience, with a total of 1239 Super Rugby caps (up from 1045 in 2016) and 540 Test caps (up from 355 in 2016).

Reds head coach Nick Stiles said: "We're extremely happy with the balance of the 2017 squad.

"We have managed to retain the best young talent in Queensland, while also recruiting some of the most experienced players in Australian rugby.

"And we've contained a further nine of the best young players from the Queensland pathway, who will play a significant role in the succession planning and future success of the team for years to come.

"It's an exciting squad with experienced, hardened forwards and skilful backs as well as strong ball runners, which allows us to play some exciting rugby.

"The players and staff are already looking forward to the 2017 season and if you're a fan of the Reds, you should be pretty excited as well.”

Several players from Queensland's pathway programs have been promoted to the senior squad, including Brisbane City prop Markus Vanzati, City/Queensland under-20s scrum-half Moses Sorovi and outside back Jayden Ngamanu, Bond University Queensland Country/Queensland under-20s representatives Alex Mafi and Izack Rodda and former Australian Schoolboys captain Reece Hewat.

The Reds also re-signed recent Wallabies debutant Samu Kerevi, Japanese Test player Hendrik Tui, winger Chris Feauai-Sautia and playmaker Duncan Paia'aua.

A further 20 players from last year's senior squad were also retained, including Wallabies Kane Douglas, Rob Simmons, James Slipper and Nick Frisby.

The overall make-up of the squad is a strong reflection on the strength of rugby in the state, with more than 70% of players coming from the Queensland pathway.

In addition to the senior squad, Queensland Rugby has also signed a further nine development players to ensure the future success of the Reds.

The Reds development squad includes 2016 Queensland/Australia under-20 forwards Angus Scott-Young and Harry Hocking, Queensland under-20s prop Harry Hoopert and promising young outside backs Tom Banks and Will Eadie.

2017 Queensland Reds

IN: Quade Cooper, Reece Hewat, Scott Higginbotham, Leroy Houston, Lachlan Maranta, Alex Mafi, Stephen Moore, Jayden Ngamanu, Izaia Perese, Izack Rodda, George Smith, Moses Sorovi, Caleb Timu, Markus Vanzati,

OUT: Curtis Browning, Ben Daley, Anthony Fainga'a, Saia Fainga'a, Lolo Fakaosilea, Scott Gale, Liam Gill, Ayumu Goromaru, Sam Greene,Greg Holmes, Junior Laloifi, Ben Matwijow, Jake Schatz, JJ Taulagi

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