Emotional Henry Speight motivated by his brother
July 20, 2014
Brumbies 32-30 Chiefs (video available in Australia only)
It wasn't the thought of a second crack at the Super Rugby trophy that brought tears to Henry Speight's eyes at the end of the Brumbies tight 32-30 win over the Chiefs on Saturday night. But the knowledge that his brother was sitting in the stands watching his brother play Super Rugby for the very first time.
Emotional before and after the game, Speight was clearly motivated when he took to the field with Chiefs coach Dave Rennie labelling the performance as massive and couldn't be clearer on whether Speight was ready for international rugby.
But Speight quickly went from hero to villain with his second-half sin-binning as he thought he'd let his team-mates down and cost the side their 12-point lead. Speight soon made amends with a powerful effort in the final minutes to see his side back into the lead.
Talking to Fairfax Media after the game, Speight was clearly emotional and a tear came to his eye as he talked about his brother, Sam.
"It was just my brother being here. I was a bit emotional before the game just knowing that he was there for the first time in four years," Speight said. "I just wanted to do it for him and for the two [siblings] in Fiji that couldn't make it."
Playing for Waikato in the ITM Cup, Speight slipped through the Chiefs' grasp before Rennie arrived and Rennie was left to ponder what could have been after Speight's strong performance. Continuing to fight to lure Speight to the Chiefs, Rennie has so far been left disappointed, but won't give up hope of getting him into a Chiefs jersey.
The Fijian-flyer created defensive headaches for the Chiefs throughout the night, making 186 metres, 13 tackle busts, two linebreaks, three offloads and 13 runs. And the Chiefs only have themselves to blame. That's because Speight not only played for Hamilton Boys High School, but went on to represent the Waikato provincial team - the Chiefs' feeder club.
But the previous Chiefs coaching staff "didn't rate" Speight very highly back in 2010-11, according to Rennie, and the Brumbies pounced.
"He got away before I got there, unfortunately," Rennie said. "We spoke to him when I first got up to Hamilton about trying to get him back. We were pretty keen. But it's tough to see him move now."
Tough indeed. Speight is a loyal character, re-signing with the Brumbies for another two years in May, while he'll finally be eligible to play for the Wallabies from September 11. And Rennie has no doubts he's ready for Test level.
"Oh hell yeah. He's been ready for a while," Rennie said. "You give him the ball, even with two guys in front of him he's either going to get yardage or skin people. He really troubled us."
Despite the Chiefs scoring two of their four tries in Speight's absence, it didn't draw the ire of Brumbies director of rugby Laurie Fisher. Fisher was full of praise for Speight post match, admitting his side has probably been guilty of not creating enough space for him in previous matches.
"He just seems absolutely motivated at the moment. He makes things out of nothing," Fisher said.
With the Sharks beating the Highlanders overnight, that sets up a scintillating showdown between Speight and the Waratahs' most dangerous weapon Israel Folau at Allianz Stadium next Saturday.
"To play your best two games going into a knockout semi-final is exactly where we want to be," said Brumbies skipper Ben Mowen.
Henry Speight played a huge part in the Brumbies two-point win over the Chiefs © Getty Images
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