Winger Henry Speight said he had no intention of taking a break after the Rugby World Cup as he eyes a place in Australia’s sevens squad at next summer’s Olympic Games in Rio.
The 27-year-old Brumbies back said he wanted to come into the sevens set-up immediately after being part of a Wallabies side that lost 34-17 to perennial rivals New Zealand at the World Cup so that he could get up to speed.
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“I wanted to come in [as early as possible] to benefit myself and get learning,” said Speight, who featured in an Australian side that lost 19-14 to South Africa in the Plate final to finish sixth place overall at the Dubai Rugby Sevens.
“If I had come in January I would have been chasing my tail a little bit. It’s good to be here and this is sort of a benchmark of what I’ve got to do after the New Year and I hope to learn and get better.”
The versatile back can play either at centre or on the wing in the 15-a-side format and has a background playing sevens in his native Fiji.
Speight, capped five times by the Wallabies, admits he is looking forward to playing the abbreviated form of the game again.
“It’s about taking the opportunity as it presents itself,” said Speight, who signed a landmark three-year extension with the Australian Rugby Union in July which will allow him to juggle Super Rugby and sevens commitments next year.
“The Olympics, everyone knows is the pinnacle of world sport. It’s a dream not only for me but all rugby players – it was never a possibility before but now it is and now that we’ve qualified it can be a reality for the 14 selected.
“I’m really looking forward to the prospect of walking out in an opening ceremony. It’s still a long way to go though and there’s a lot of tournaments to get through. We’ll see how it goes but hopefully I can put my hand up and prove myself.”
Speight admits he thoroughly enjoyed his first taste of sevens rugby with his country at the inaugural round of the 2015-16 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in the UAE.
“It was pretty awesome. So far it’s been great and real fun to be out there,” he said.
“I think the main focus coming into this tournament is trying to play and set a benchmark of what I need to work on and hopefully it’s onwards and upwards.
“It’s a good group we have and a good programme. The boys have been training hard before I joined and it’s a real honour to be part of the group and get to know the boys and learn as much as I can from them.”
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