Speight signs up for sevens

    2015-07-23 07:22

    Sydney - Wallabies wing Henry Speight has signed up to play sevens next year with an eye on making the Australia team for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

    The hulking Fijian-born winger has agreed a three-year deal with the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) and will combine his Super Rugby duties at the Brumbies with sevens rugby next season.

    Having missed out on one of the four spots for Rio available from the world series, Australia still need to secure their Olympic berth at the Oceania championship later this year.

    Perennial sevens powers New Zealand and Fiji have already qualified, however, so Australia will be favourites to progress from the November 14-15 tournament in Auckland.

    Speight, who qualified for Australia last year and has played two Tests for the Wallabies, thanked the ARU and Brumbies for giving him a chance to pursue his Olympic dream.

    "We still have to qualify for Rio, but I'm confident that we'll get through and can push for a medal," Speight, who is currently serving a ban for a dangerous tackle, said in a news release.

    "Sevens is massive in Fiji where I grew up and I've always enjoyed playing it. It is an exciting time for the game in this country and I can't wait to be a part of it."

    According to local media reports, Australia flyhalf Quade Cooper is on the brink of backtracking on a move to French club Toulon to sign a new ARU deal which would also allow him to play sevens next year.

    The Australian sevens team had been light on high profile names before Speight signed.

    New Zealand's team have already had expressions of interest from All Blacks players like Liam Messam, Julian Savea and Beauden Barrett for the inaugural Olympic sevens tournament next August with former rugby league international Sonny Bill Williams also expected to join them.

    Australia coach Geraint John welcomed Speight's decision to make himself available for the Sydney, Hong Kong and London rounds of the world series next year as well as Rio, if Australia qualify.

    "Henry brings with him an X-factor in attack, an ability to beat people and make line-breaks," the Welshman said.

    "He knows where the try-line is and has a solid defensive game. His knowledge of playing sevens from when he was in Fiji will also be a valuable asset for us."

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