Speight's jaw passes tuna test
July 21, 2014
Henry Speight's clash with Israel Folau is being keenly aticipated © Getty Images
It's OK, Brumbies fans. Henry Speight's jaw is fine. It's passed the tuna steak test. Speight - who missed six games earlier this season due to a broken jaw - copped another hard knock to it in the Brumbies' thrilling Super Rugby qualifying final win against the Chiefs on Saturday.
There were concerns it might have seen him miss Saturday's blockbuster semi-final derby against the New South Wales Waratahs, but both the Brumbies' team doctor and Speight himself have given it the all clear.
"Tuna steak last night so it's good, oh and a bit of chocolate, that works even better," Speight said on Monday.
Speight played down his 70 minutes of razzle-dazzle brilliance against the Chiefs, choosing to instead open the press conference on Monday by ruing his agonising 10 minutes in the bin. While the Fijian-flyer notched up 186 metres, 13 tackle busts, two line breaks and 13 runs - the stat he was most concerned about was the column that read: yellow card. The 26-year-old picked it up for failing to roll away from a ruck while the Chiefs were hot on attack.
"In that ten minutes they scored two tries - it was a tough pill to swallow," he said. "But on the bright side I think there's always time to get your first yellow card - get that out of the way."
It says a lot about the character of Speight that it was his first time in the bin, and that he also holds himself to such a high account. Head coach Stephen Larkham said it was one of the best performances he had seen from Speight - who becomes eligible for the Wallabies on September 11.
"I was quite amazed actually - both myself and Laurie Fisher - as to the feats he was achieving," Larkham said.
Speight's hot form sets up a scintillating battle between Australian rugby's other most dangerous weapon - Israel Folau - when the Brumbies travel to Allianz Stadium on Saturday night to do battle against the Tahs. The do-or-die match will be the biggest Australian derby since the two sides last faced off in a semi-final back in 2002. And Larkham has no doubts Speight will keep up his form for the knockout clash.
"He's peaking at the right end of the season. He's put a couple of really nice games together and I expect that to continue," he said.