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The University of Canberra Brumbies have welcomed news that winger Henry Speight will be eligible for a Wallabies jumper in 2014, with the IRB ruling the Fijian-born player will be available for Australia from September 11.
The announcement means Speight can be selected for the back half of the Rugby Championship and the Wallabies Spring Tour of Europe.
Rated as one of Super Rugby’s best finishers, Speight has topped the Australian try-scorers list for the last two years thanks to his electric change of pace, powerful fend and ability to step off both feet.
Speight is also highly regarded for his work in defence, due largely to his finesse at the breakdown and outstanding one-on-one tackle average.
UC Brumbies Head Coach Stephen Larkham said while he had hoped Speight would be permitted to represent the Wallabies immediately, as a big fan of Speight he was prepared to wait until September.
“Henry has consistently proven over the last two years that he is up there with Australia’s best wingers,” Larkham said.
“We have been working towards Henry being eligible for the Wallabies for the last two years and while I’d have loved to see him available for the Tests against France in June, it will be worth the wait to see him play for the Wallabies towards the end of 2014.
“Off the field Henry is one of the most popular guys in our club and this has been something we’ve all been waiting on for some time. It’s great to have a date.”
“I have no doubts at all that Henry has the potential to be a long-term Wallaby and along with the rest of the club, we’ll be doing our best to support him over the next six or seven months. He’s got the potential to play nine Tests this year and plenty more over the next decade or so.”
Speight joined the UC Brumbies in 2011 having enjoyed a spell in Waikato and New Zealand’s ITM Cup. A return to the Waikato side at the end of 2011 has proven the hang up for Speight making an appearance for the Wallabies, with the IRB finding Speight’s compulsory three year stay in Australia restarted with his return to the North Island.
None the less, Speight has maintained his strong desire to represent the Wallabies and will be working closer towards that goal during the 2014 Super Rugby season.
The UC Brumbies are in preparation for the Super Rugby season opener on 22 February when they will face the Queensland Reds at Canberra Stadium.