Speight not eligible for Wallabies tour
October 12, 2013
Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie likes the power and finishing ability of Henry Speight © Getty Images
Fijian-born Brumbies flyer Henry Speight is at the centre of a red-tape fight for Australia to try and make him eligible to play for the Wallabies.
Australian Rugby Union (ARU) officials had hoped to have Speight cleared in time for the November tour to the UK, Ireland and Italy, but the International Rugby Board (IRB) has ruled that he cannot play for the Wallabies until November 30.
That would mean he is only eligible for the final Test against Wales in Cardiff, and it makes little sense for coach Ewen McKenzie to select him for the tour.
The case could be worse for Australia if the IRB was to stick to the strictest interpretation of the law that relates to two-year residency for eligibility, which would mean Speight could not play for the Wallabies until September 2014.
The main issue stems from when he played the 2011 season with Waikato in New Zealand's ITM Cup. Having lived in Hamilton before, Speight's stint with Waikato was seen as a homecoming of sorts despite being registered as a foreign development player from the Brumbies.
McKenzie is excited by the prospect of having Speight available, but is happy to wait out the process until he is properly cleared.
"I'm waiting to know (the date) and will make a decision accordingly," McKenzie said.
McKenzie has selected a 32-man squad to play six Tests over seven weeks, starting with the third Bledisloe Cup Test against the All Blacks next week in Dunedin followed by a Grand Slam tour of the UK and Ireland that is spilt by a Test against Italy after their opening match against England at Twickenham.
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