Speight's Olympic dream still alive

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Henry Speight’s Olympic dream is not dead, despite looming facial surgery.

Speight has been ruled out for up to eight weeks with a broken frontal bone but Australian Men’s Sevens coach Andy Friend said he would still have a chance to push for a spot in Rio.

Speight was originally slated to switch to Sevens full-time after this weekend’s Brumbies clash with the Cheetahs but his official start date is yet to be confirmed, with the Fijian flyer returning from South Africa this week.

Friend said medical reports gave Speight a six-week window to return, though contact restrictions may push that timeline out.

The Wallabies winger was set to play in the Singapore leg of the World Series on April 16-17 and potentially the final two legs, in London and Paris.

Friend said even if Speight misses the rest of the World Series, he would still have a chance to push his Rio credentials.

“Post-Singapore he’ll be training full-time with us,” he said.

“It just means that we probably would have liked to see him in the Singapore leg and hopefully he’ll be right in one of Paris or London or both.”

Speight is one of a handful of Australian Sevens players battling injury as Rio nears, with Nick Malouf (knee), Tom Cusack (wrist) and Pama Fou (shoulder) also on the casualty list, Friend said those players would have opportunities to play in some post- World Series exhibition games

“We’ve got a few coming back from injury and every likelihood they’ll also miss the Paris and London legs.

“We have some games leading into Rio, in early to mid-June where those blokes will have their chance.

“It’s a little bit late but their chances haven't fallen with injuries. If Henry’s in that boat, then he’ll have the same chance.”

The 27-year-old will be able to complete all of the conditioning training he needs but will be out of contact for the majority of his rehab.

“It’s a facial fracture so once the surgery settles down he’ll be able to do all the conditioning,” he said.

“It’s not ideal he can’t do the contact and take place in the side but we’ll be able to do all the conditioning and he’ll get a good, solid block of that.”

Former Wallabies flyer Nick Cummins will join the Australian Sevens program this week, training with the side for the first time on Wednesday, ahead of his return to the truncated game.