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Wise advice

Rashneel Kumar
Monday, July 21, 2014

THE Australian rugby has one man to thank for Henry Speight's decision to choose the Wallabies ahead of the All Blacks.

The sensational ACT Brumbies winger took his late grandfather and former Fiji president and Tui Vuda Ratu Josefa Iloilo's advice and stuck with the Australian rugby despite being offered opportunity to play in New Zealand.

Speight, who helped Brumbies beat Chiefs 32-30 in the Super Rugby qualifiers on Saturday night for a place in the semi-final against Waratahs this Saturday, has been on the Wallabies most wanted list since last season. But he has to wait until September 11 to become eligible to play for them.

The 26-year-old is likely to be named in the Wallabies' squad to tour South Africa and Argentina soon after he becomes eligible.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Speight said Ratu Iloilo was one of the most influential people in his life and made him the person he was today.

"My grandfather always told me; 'Be grateful to people who give you an opportunity'," Speight says.

"The Brumbies and Australian rugby have given me the biggest opportunity of my life, so I'm trying to work through the full distance and work hard for the Brumbies.

"I lost my mum at a young age and my grandfather was the one that brought us up, he was kind enough to take us in and raise us.

"He was my maternal grandfather, he was always big on humility and showing gratitude for things, no matter how big or small, he instilled those values in us whenever he could."

Speight started his professional rugby career in 2008 on a three-year contract with the ITM Cup side Waikato, the feeder club for the Chiefs.

In 2010, Chiefs offered Speight an extended playing squad contract for Super Rugby while the Brumbies were guaranteeing a two-year full-time contract.

Speight, who dreamt of playing in the Super Rugby competition, took the Brumbies offer and eventually became a hit.

In 2012, Chiefs wanted him back but Speight who had set his focus on playing for the Wallabies committed to Brumbies.

"The gold jersey is the ultimate goal, I didn't want to look back."

Speight has also acknowledged the support of his other family members in shaping his rugby career.

His elder brother Sam Speight flew into Australia last week to watch him rattle the Chiefs at Canberra Stadium on Saturday night.

In an interview with the Fairfax Media after the game, Henry talked about his brother's presence among the crowd.

"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," he said.

"I just wanted to do it for him and for the two (siblings) in Fiji that couldn't make it."








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