Henry Speight back for the Brumbies
May 12, 2014
Brumbies winger Henry Speight is aiming to impress Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie © Getty Images
Brumbies winger Henry Speight is back, and he is itching to stake his claim for a long-awaited Wallabies berth. The Fijian flyer has been out of action since suffering a broken jaw against the New South Wales Waratahs two months ago.
Five Super Rugby rounds plus finals is all Speight has left to show Test coach Ewen McKenzie that he still possesses the blistering form that made him the equal highest try-scorer in the 2013 Australian conference.
"Everyone's aim is to make it to a higher level, that next step," Speight told AAP. "But I have been out for eight weeks - I have to come back and prove myself with the Brumbies."
Speight becomes eligible for the Wallabies from September 11, meaning he'll miss the June internationals against France, but will be available in time for three of Australia's six Rugby Championship games and the Bledisloe Cup decider.
The unusually long wait is due to a season Speight played with Waikato in New Zealand's ITM Cup in 2011 whilst still contracted with the Brumbies. Players must satisfy the 36 consecutive months' residency criteria to qualify for the national team, and the IRB issued a strict interpretation of the law.
"It's taken a bit longer than the usual three years, but there's no use getting frustrated over things you can't do much about," Speight said.
Barring any training mishaps, Speight will return to the Brumbies' wing for Sunday morning's clash against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein after flying with the team to South Africa. Speight said he was "all ready" to go after spending two weeks longer on the sideline than expected for precautionary reasons.
"He's certainly a guy you'd just slot straight back into the team," head coach Stephen Larkham said late last week. "He's a player that keeps himself fit off the field - his body is still ripped."
Speight's return is a timely one, as Wallabies winger Joe Tomane will be out of action for up to eight weeks with a fractured cheekbone that fortunately does not require surgery.
There's also the fact that Speight excels in South Africa. He's scored five tries in as many matches there over the past two seasons. Speight is off contract with the Brumbies at the end of the season, but hopes to have his future sorted out soon after returning from South Africa.
"My preference is to stay in Canberra," he said.