Rugby Union

Henry Speight added to Australian sevens squad for Olympic Games dream

Australian sevens coach Tim Walsh says it is the perfect time to blood Wallabies World Cup winger Henry Speight in the altered version of the game as he aims for a Rio Olympic Games berth.

ACT Brumbies flyer Speight will join the sevens team in Auckland on the weekend for the Oceania regional Olympic qualifying event as part of a 15-man squad which also includes Canberra's Tom Cusack.

Three players will be cut before the team flies to New Zealand, but Speight is expected to be on the plane as he prepares to juggle two different styles.

Speight officially became an Australian citizen last week after passing his citizenship test when he landed in Sydney following the World Cup campaign.

He was part of the Wallabies squad which fell painfully short of lifting the World Cup after losing the final to New Zealand.

"It's just good to get the body into the groove of things. It will probably take me a few days to get up to speed," Speight said.

Advertisement

"I'm very excited and very humbled as well. The goal is [to get to] Rio, this is a major, major step towards that and we're not getting too far ahead of ourselves.

"It's a great opportunity. An Olympics doesn't come around too often, it's a once in a lifetime thing. There are no guaranteed spots if you come in. I feel like a new kid in school trying to learn off some of the experienced in the squad."

Speight rushed around Sydney on Monday to collect his new Australian passport.

It ends a long and frustrating process, which delayed his Wallabies eligibility for four years. But his new citizenship clears him for Wallabies duties and a spot in the Olympic squad if he's picked.

Speight was used sparingly by coach Michael Cheika, playing against Uruguay in his only game of the tournament.

The Fijian-born 27-year-old will juggle Brumbies and sevens duties in the 2016 campaign, with no concrete plans for how he will cope with both workloads.

But Walsh said Speight was ready to make the transition and transfer his World Cup experience into sevens.

"We have been preparing for this tournament for a number of months now and obviously Henry hasn't spent any time with the squad as yet," Walsh said.

"However, we felt this was an ideal opportunity for him to get used to some of our systems and familiarise himself with the playing group.

"Despite only arriving back from the Rugby World Cup last week, Henry was keen to travel which underlines the passion he has to be part of this squad."

Australia will play Nauru, Cook Islands and Tonga on the opening day, with only the winning team of the qualifier to secure a spot at the Olympics next year.

Australia needs to finish in the top three to keep its Olympic dream alive, with the second and third-placed team securing a place in the last qualification event.

Meanwhile, five Canberra Vikings players have been named in the Australian Barbarians side to play against New Zealand's Heartland XV on Tuesday.

Dean Oakman-Hunt and Rowan Perry will start as the backrow combination while Isaac Thompson and Rodney Iona will form a playmaking duo.

Rising tighthead prop Tyrel Lomax, the son of former Canberra Raiders front-rower John Lomax, has won a spot on the bench.

Advertisement