Henry Speight will debut against the Barbarians. Photo: Roar
New Wallaby coach Michael Cheika dealt Australian rugby a royal flush with his first cards on the table to meet the Barbarians at Twickenham on Saturday.
Four selections stand out.
Naming the tireless Matt Hodgson as skipper for the opener is a masterstroke, recognising the huge season he had leading the Force.
Henry Speight’s family has finally been granted visitor visas. Photo: Getty Images
After a long four year wait ACT Brumbies winger Henry Speight has finally become eligible to suit up for the Wallabies, but it wasn’t his long-term wait to become a Wallaby that had Speight so happy over the weekend, but the Australian government ending years of heartache by granting his family visitor visas.
The Fijian-born star and his five siblings were reunited for the first time in seven years over the weekend, with Davila and Jerry allowed into the country just days after Speight became eligible to play for Australia.
Peter Betham will replace Henry Speight in the Wallabies squad. Photo: Skysports
Waratahs wing Peter Betham will join the Wallabies Rugby Championship squad, after Brumbies flyer Henry Speight was sidelined for a month with a hamstring injury.
Speight, who becomes eligible to represent Australia from September 11, suffered the injury in the second half of the Brumbies’ recent Super Rugby semi-final clash against the Waratahs in Sydney.
Betham replaces Speight in the Wallabies squad and will now push for further representative honours after earning his international debut for Australia in the third Bledisloe Cup Test against New Zealand in Dunedin last year.
Brumbies winger Henry Speight attacks in Super Rugby. Photo: Skysports
Fiji-born Brumbies winger Henry Speight has been included in Australia’s squad for the upcoming Rugby Championship against New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina.
Wallaby coach Ewen McKenzie also named Melbourne Rebels scrum-half Luke Burgess in his 32-man squad on Wednesday in place of Will Genia, who may still be recalled later in the series if he recovers from his ankle injury.
Winger Joe Tomane replaces Nick Cummins, who has left to play in Japan.
Henry Speight stands next to grandfather, the late Ratu Josefa Iloilo.
When Henry Speight finally pulls on the Wallabies jersey in September, Australian rugby must extend much gratitude to his late grandfather Ratu Josefa Iloilo, the former Fijian president.
“He was one of the most influential people in my life, he made me the person I am today,” Speight says.
Had it not been for the advice given to Speight by Ratu Iloilo, the superstar winger would be playing in New Zealand and likely sporting an All Black top.
To know Speight is to understand his childhood.
Speight has been medically cleared to play in the Super Rugby semi-finals on Saturday, Photo: Australian
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.
Waratahs winger Rob Horne is keen to take on Henry Speight in their semi-finals clash against the Brumbies on Saturday. Photo: News Corp
NSW Waratahs winger Rob Horne has accepted the challenge of stopping Brumbies flyer Henry Speight in the Super Rugby semi-final in Sydney on Saturday night and has invited the ACT side to continue playing expansively.
Speight was sensational in the Brumbies’ 32-30 win against the Chiefs in the qualifying final in Canberra last Saturday night and looms as a major threat to the Waratahs.
While Horne normally defends in the midfield for the Waratahs, he is expected to stay on his wing to try to contain Speight.