Popular Speight heading to the Reds in 2020
Photo: Karen Watson
Wallaby Henry Speight has announced his departure from the Brumbies at the end of the 2019 Super Rugby season. But in positive news for the domestic game, he will be remaining in Australia to take up a two-year contract with the Queensland Reds.
The popular Fijian-born wing/centre has made 119 appearances to date for the Brumbies since his debut against the Chiefs back in 2011, scoring 45 tries in the process, and finishing as the Australian Conference’s leading try-scorer in both 2012 and 2013.
The 31-year-old has also pulled on the green and gold of his adopted country on 19 occasions, having debuted on the 2014 Spring Tour against Ireland, and is hopeful of getting a taste of a second Rugby World Cup with the Wallabies later this year, after featuring at the 2015 edition in England.
Given the length of his tenure in the nation’s capital, the fact he played club, NRC and Super Rugby in different guises, and was undoubtedly a fan favourite, he admits that the decision to make the move north was not taken lightly.
“I will be forever grateful for the Brumbies for giving me the chance to play Super Rugby at a club with an unbelievable culture and strong history,” he said. “The Canberra Community as well has been fantastic to me, and has given me so many memories inside and outside of rugby. The Gungahlin Eagles, Lifeline Canberra and the Fijian community here in Canberra are just a few examples of what has made my career with the Brumbies so special.
“Whilst I have many memories of amazing away victories, there is nothing better than playing for the Brumbies in a win at GIO Stadium. The Brumbies fans will always hold a special place in my heart. I will never forget the kids who shouted to me when I was on the wing when the ball was on the other side of the field, and for those who waited in the middle of winter for an autograph and a chat. Whilst I might have a different coloured jersey next year, I can’t wait to see those smiles again in the future.
“I am passionate about the game in this country, see a bright future for Australian Rugby and still have ambitions to contribute at the national level,” he continued. “This was the toughest decision I have ever made, but discussions with my partner Louise, and as an expecting parent for the first time, we thought that a longer-term arrangement and the chance to be around family was the right choice for us all. Regardless of what that future may hold, I am happy and extremely proud to be a Brumby for life.
“Whilst focused on the Brumbies for this season, I am delighted to be joining the Reds and I can’t wait to meet both the team and the fans.”
Brumbies head coach Dan McKellar paid tribute to the impact that Speight – who also had stints with Waikato in New Zealand and Ulster Rugby in Ireland – has made in his time in Canberra, as both a player and a representative of the club.
“Henry is a legend of the Brumbies now and he always will be,” he said. “He is a loved character in our team and loved in the community, and is incredibly popular throughout the region. Henry has done so much work for charity off-field and has obviously been an enormous contributor on-field.
“Once a Brumby always a Brumby and that is certainly the case with Henry Speight. When he returns to us, at some point of time in his career in an opposition jersey, I would imagine he would get a warm reception, and he deserves that. Whilst it’s sad, we certainly understand why he has made the decision that he has, and we wish him all the best for the future.”
Position: Outside back
Place of birth: Suva, Fiji
School: Queen Victoria School (Fiji), Hamilton Boys High School (New Zealand)
Representative Honours: Waikato (2008-2011), Brumbies (2011-2019), Ulster (2018), Australia (2014-)
Super Rugby Debut: 2011 v Chiefs, Canberra
Super Rugby Caps: 119
Super Rugby Points: 225 (45T)
Test Debut: 2014 v Ireland, Dublin
Test Caps: 19
Test Points: 20 (4T)