An injury-interrupted 2016 has made Henry Speight hungrier than ever before for success in 2017.
The Brumbies winger split his time between Sevens and the Brumbies last year, with a knee injury compounding the difficulties of the switch.
Four games into 2017, though, Speight is the form Australian winger, with his latest double sealing a 28-12 win over the Waratahs.
“Last year there was a few disappointments and a few setbacks but that only made me want to come back bigger and better,” he said.
“It’s really put the hunger back in me and coming out this year and wanting to put out a (good) performance for the team.”
Speight’s first try finished off a short box kick from Joe Powell, a move that showed Speight’s confidence but also the growing stature of Powell, who was unknown at this time last year.
“It was a tight contest and we called that short box kick, it’s either we make something of it or the forwards will be running us down,” he said.
“You’re pretty thankful and when you call those plays, you have to try and make the most of it, because in tough contests like that some opportunities come only once and when they do you have to try and capitalise on that.
“If not, you’re in for a long night.
“It’s Joey as well. He’s been playing really well and talking about confidence, being able to take that option even though we were down in our half.”
Speight’s authority on-field has grown this year as one of the most experienced players in the Brumbies backline and clearly the responsibility agrees with him.
Part of that, Speight said, was showing faith in that next generation, giving younger guys the freedom to take the reins.
“Just seeing some of the young fellas play out of their skin and show what they’re capable of, not shy away from the pressure or not waiting into their own shells (is positive),” he said.
“We try and tell them to show what their skill-set are and not hold back in whatever they do and whatever they decide on the field we will back them 100 percent.
“It’s a good mix and a good vibe and it’s keeping everyone on their toes. I’m really benefiting from some young guys and them showing what they can do.” - Henry Speight
Coach Stephen Larkham said Speight was getting back to the form that made him a Super Rugby sensation back in 2014.
“This year we saw all the Wallaby guys come back in really good spirits and he’s been leading the way in terms of our training.
“The energy and enthusiasm at training and obviously his performances, he’s back to his best.”
The Brumbies sit on top of the Australian conference after four rounds but they’ll face another big test next weekend hosting the Highlanders on Saturday night.