Rugby Union


Henry Speight says Brumbies ready to bounce back from Super Rugby 'reality check'

ACT Brumbies winger Henry Speight says the team must bounce back from a Super Rugby "reality check" to prove they can be championship contenders.

But the flying Fijian is bracing for a blockbuster individual battle against Julian Savea and is determined to avoid become a speed bump for the man nicknamed 'The Bus'.

The Brumbies will attempt to end an Australian rugby hoodoo in New Zealand when they play the Wellington Hurricanes in Napier on Friday night.

The Brumbies haven't won a game in New Zealand since 2014 and Australian teams have already lost 12 trans-Tasman contests this year.

Speight said the Brumbies needed to rebound immediately after a shock loss last weekend, adamant the Canberra franchise can make a statement by toppling the defending champion Hurricanes.

"The confidence is still high for us," Speight said.


"We probably played our worst game of the season last weekend [against the Melbourne Rebels] and we only lost by two points.

"It was a tough loss to swallow, but in saying that, we've got confidence we were still in the match even if we were below our best.

"It was a bit of a reality check for us and probably woke us up to put us in a good position for this weekend."

Speight scored two tries against the Rebels and confirmed his standing as the best winger in Australian rugby this season.

His next challenge is stopping 108 kilogram powerhouse Savea, who has scored five tries in six games this year.

The Hurricanes boast the best attacking record in Super Rugby, scoring 313 points in seven games. It's almost double the Brumbies' tally of 161 points in seven games.

But Speight said the Brumbies were ready to unleash the attacking beast, urging his teammates not to go into their shell in a bid to end a New Zealand losing streak.

"My goal this week is to make sure I'm not a speed bump on the road for 'The Bus'," Speight said.

"He's one of the best wingers in world rugby at the moment so coming up against him is always a good challenge.

"It's something I enjoy ... you've got to be confident in your own ability and as a back line we have to limit the quality ball he gets."

Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham has been throwing curve balls at the players at training this week to prepare them for the unpredictable Hurricanes' attack.

Flyhalf Beauden Barrett pulls the strings for the Hurricanes with strike weapons like Savea and Ngani Laumape, Super Rugby's leading try-scorer, terrorising defenders

The Hurricanes scored three tries in the first 11 minutes against the NSW Waratahs two weeks ago and Larkham introduced new training tactics to brace for the onslaught of attack.

The Brumbies have the best defensive record in Super Rugby this year, conceding just 120 points.

"We've got to find a balance in our attack and defence," said recalled winger James Dargaville.

"A lot of the week has been about practising scramble [defence] when we turn over ball and trying to fix our defensive line.

"The ball is in play a lot longer [against New Zealand teams] ... Bernie [Larkham] has been pulling defenders out of the line at training, he's got some tricks."


Friday: Wellington Hurricanes v ACT Brumbies at McLean Park, Napier, 5.35pm. TV time: Live on Fox Sports 1.

Brumbies team: 15. Aidan Toua, 14. Henry Speight, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 12. Andrew Smith, 11. James Dargaville, 10. Wharenui Hawera, 9. Joe Powell, 8. Jarrad Butler, 7. Chris Alcock, 6. Scott Fardy, 5. Sam Carter, 4. Rory Arnold, 3. Allan Alaalatoa, 2. Josh Mann-Rea, 1. Scott Sio. Reserves: 16. Robbie Abel, 17. Nic Mayhew, 18. Ben Alexander, 19. Blake Enever, 20. Lolo Fakaosilea, 21. De Wet Roos, 22. Jordan Jackson-Hope, 23. Nigel Ah Wong.

Hurricanes team: 15. Jordie Barrett, 14. Cory Jane, 13. Vince Aso, 12. Ngani Laumape, 11. Julian Savea, 10. Beauden Barrett, 9. Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 8. Blade Thomson, 7. Ardie Savea, 6. Brad Shields, 5. Vaea Fifita, 4. Mark Abbott, 3. Jeffery To'omaga-Allen, 2. Ricky Riccitelli, 1. Ben May. Reserves: 16. Leni Apisai, 17. Chris Eves, 18. Mike Kainga, 19. James Blackwell, 20. Callum Gibbins, 21. TJ Perenara, 22. Otere Black, 23. Ben Lam.