Henry Speight fast-tracked into Wallabies squad
July 23, 2014
Ewen McKenzie named Henry Speight in a Wallabies squad as soon as the Fiji-born winger was eligible
Henry Speight is in line to win his first Test cap for Australia against Argentina on September 13 after being named in the 32-man Wallabies squad for The Rugby Championship.
Ewen McKenzie named 25 players who earned at least one cap during the recent series sweep over France, along with five players who featured as squad members during the three-game campaign.
Fiji-born Speight, who has had to serve a three-year residency before becoming available for selection, and Brumbies team-mates Ben Alexander and Joe Tomane are the only players named to face New Zealand, South Africa and the Pumas who did not feature against France.
Wallabies Squad for The Rugby Championship
The squad captained by Michael Hooper boasts 781 Tests' worth of experience from all five Australian Super Rugby franchises, and McKenzie said the familiarity of the players would be beneficial ahead of the opening Bledisloe Cup Test against the All Blacks in Sydney on August 16.
"We've come a long way as a group over the past 12 months and the consistency we're now applying across selections, high-performance behaviours and our playing style is a positive sign that we are heading in the right direction," McKenzie said in reference to the Wallabies' seven-match winning streak - a run of success not enjoyed by Australia since 1999-2000.
"The challenge for us now is to continue this consistency throughout The Rugby Championship, beginning with a Bledisloe Cup clash against New Zealand.
"We understand a great deal of attention going into the match will be around the All Blacks and their motivation to create a new piece of history by winning a world-record 18 consecutive games.
"For us, it's no secret that our desire to win back the Bledisloe Cup grows every year. But if our attention isn't focused on the right areas during our preparations then it will be easy to get caught looking too far ahead. We recognise that and will have a clear understanding of how we are going to approach and prepare for the opening game."
Henry Speight has been rewarded for his barnstorming form with the Brumbies © Getty Images
The squad, minus players participating in the Super Rugby final, will assemble on August 3 to begin a week-long "Bush2Bledisloe" regional road trip through regional New South Wales to Dubbo, Orange, Bathurst and Penrith. The players who feature in the Super Rugby final on August 2 will join the squad in Bathurst on August 6.
"It's extremely pleasing to know we will have one Australian province in the Super Rugby Final and I wish both the Waratahs and the Brumbies the best of luck for their clash on Saturday," McKenzie said. "It has been captivating to follow their respective journeys throughout 2014 and I'm confident their efforts - along with those of the Force, Rebels and Reds - will have a positive influence when the Test season begins."
Players who were not considered for selection due to injury include hooker Stephen Moore (knee), flankers David Pocock (knee) and Dave Dennis (knee), scrum-half Will Genia (ankle), fly-half Quade Cooper (shoulder), centre Kyle Godwin (knee) and outside back Chris Feauai-Sautia (shoulder).
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Concussion, relegation and the mother of all surprises - it's the Monday Maul.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies