Australian rugby is salivating at the thought of ACT Brumbies winger Henry Speight pulling on a Wallabies’ jersey later this year, but the Fijian flyer has been forced to postpone the dream of two of his siblings watching him play Super Rugby in Australia.
But he hopes an application will be successful later this year, which could open up the possibility of them watching him play for his adopted country when he becomes eligible on September 11.
The good news is his brother Sam, who saw him play at Canberra Stadium for the first time on Saturday, has extended his stay until Sunday, allowing him to watch the Brumbies’ semi-final clash against Super Rugby minor premiers NSW Waratahs at the Sydney Football Stadium this weekend.
Speight spoke emotionally of the motivation of having Sam in the crowd for the Brumbies’ epic qualifying final victory over the Waikato Chiefs, which led to an inspirational performance from the softly spoken bro with the fro.
Sam’s extended stay could spell bad news for the Tahs if he repeats that performance.
While his older brother has taken holidays from the British Army, his sister Davila, who works for a bank, and brother Jerry, a university student, had their applications for visas denied because they were deemed a risk of seeking asylum because their father moved to Australia on a protection visa.
The Brumbies have backed repeated applications to the Department of Immigration during Speight’s four years with the province. He is hoping the Australian Rugby Union might also throw its weight behind any applications.
“It’s a massive void that’s not being filled at the moment, not being able to sponsor any of them to come over and spend a week or two with me,” Speight said. “If they make it for a Test that would be bloody awesome.
“Just to see them come out like Sammy did, that would be amazing in itself. It would just be good to be given permission and be allowed to show them what I do, see where my home is and what Canberra’s like.”
Speight has had an injury-interrupted season, after a broken jaw ruled him out for six games.
There were concerns he had reinjured it when he was on the wrong end of a high shot against the Chiefs, but he passed the fitness test.
“[I had] tuna steak last night, so it’s good, and a bit of chocolate, that works even better,” Speight said.
The injury meant Australia’s highest try-scorer in Super Rugby for 2012-13 has crossed the stripe just twice this year. But it has not stopped him from being influential for the Brumbies, as he showed against the Chiefs.
Speight was unconcerned with his try return, after fellow outside backs Robbie Coleman and Jesse Mogg have picked up the slack with eight tries each.
Instead, the 26-year-old felt he had become a more rounded player, having an impact all over the ground and not just on the scoreboard.
“Scoring tries is a great bonus, but as long as I do my part for the team, I’ll be happy,” Speight said. “Whether that’s carrying [the ball] hard or making tackles, but getting tries on top of that is a good day.
“It hasn’t really come my way this year and in a way it’s a positive, I can work on other things and contribute to the team. I feel I’ve balanced my game a bit, it’s a good thing to have.”