Qantas Wallabies winger Henry Speight has agreed a new three-year deal with Australian Rugby that will see him remain with the Aquis Brumbies through to the end of 2018 and join the Qantas Australian Sevens Program in 2016.
The landmark deal means Speight will be available for the inaugural Sydney 7s at Allianz Stadium in February next year.
As part of the agreement between Australian Rugby and the Aquis Brumbies, Speight will combine his duties with the national Sevens program and his Super Rugby team throughout 2016.
As well as the Sydney 7s on the weekend on February 6-7, Speight will be available for selection for the Hong Kong and London legs of the 2015/16 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series and – pending qualification – the Rio 2016 Olympics.
At the conclusion of the Rio Olympics in August 2016, Speight will be available for the Qantas Wallabies for the remainder of The Rugby Championship before returning full-time with the Aquis Brumbies for the 2017 and 2018 Super Rugby seasons.
The Fijian-born excitement machine grew up playing Sevens in his native Fiji and in 2013 was named the Player of the Tournament as the Brumbies won the first-ever World Club Sevens in London.
Speight has played 74 times for the Brumbies, scoring 26 tries, since making his Super Rugby debut during the 2011 season.
Henry Speight said: “I am grateful to both the ARU and the Brumbies for giving me the opportunity to continue playing for the Wallabies as well as having a chance to go to an Olympic Games. We still have to qualify for Rio, but I’m confident that we’ll get through and can push for a medal.
“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.
“For now, my focus is on the Wallabies and making the squad for the World Cup.”
ARU General Manager, Professional Rugby, Rob Clarke said: “It is tremendously exciting news for the game with Henry locking in his future with Australian Rugby and the Brumbies, and even more so that he has chosen to pursue his dream of becoming an Olympian by joining the Australian Sevens program for 2016.
“Henry’s attributes as a player and his strong background in Sevens will make him a fine addition to our Sevens team for their 2016 campaign, which includes the inaugural Sydney 7s at Allianz Stadium in February.
“Henry was one of handful of players identified to bolster our Sevens team in our pursuit of an Olympic Games berth and we look forward to him showcasing his skills on the Sevens stage.”
Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens Head Coach Geraint John added: “I am delighted to be able to welcome Henry into the Sevens program. A key thing for me is that he has a genuine desire to support the Sevens program and make himself available for selection for the squad.
"Henry brings with him an x-factor in attack, an ability to beat people and make line-breaks. 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."
Aquis Brumbies Head Coach Stephen Larkham said he is delighted to have one of his key players on board until 2018.
"He has proved his work, he has shown his quality in the big games and he always delivers,” Larkham said.
“Off the field Henry is one of the most popular guys in our club and it's not just because he takes time to thank fans after every home match.
"It's because he is an unbelievable player both in attack and defence.
“We understand that he has an ambition to represent the Brumbies, Wallabies and Australia at the Olympics and this new contract paves the way for that to be possible.”
The Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens team will play in the Oceania Qualifier in Auckland on the weekend of 14/15 November, with only the winning country from that tournament guaranteed a spot at Rugby Sevens’ debut in the Olympics in Rio.
Tickets for the Sydney Sevens are available from Friday 4 September from as little as $30 a day (single-day pass). Fans can sign up for ticket alerts via sydney7s.com.au.
Hospitality packages for the Sydney Sevens are available now from $365 via Sydney7s.com.au.
Henry Speight Wallaby #888
Born: 24 March 1988
Province: Aquis Brumbies
Wallaby Test Caps: 2
Wallaby Test Debut: Ireland v Australia, Lansdowne Road, 22 November 2014
Full Series Dates for the 2015-16 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series:
Round 1: 4-5 December 2015 – Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Round 2: 12-13 December 2015 – Cape Town, South Africa
Round 3: 29-30 January 2016 – Wellington, New Zealand
Round 4: 6-7 February 2016 – Sydney, Australia
Round 5: 4-6 March 2016 – Las Vegas, USA
Round 6: 12-13 March 2016 – Vancouver, Canada
Round 7: 8-10 April 2016 – Hong Kong
Round 8: 16-17 April 2016 – Singapore
Round 9: 14-15 May 2016 – Paris, France
Round 10: 21-22 May 2016 – London, England