Rugby Union

Henry Speight to shave hair for Walk On Walk Strong Foundation

ACT Brumbies and Australian Wallabies winger Henry Speight is happy to lose his iconic afro hairstyle, especially to help keep up the fight against the disease that took his mum when he was only a boy.

Speight's mother Adi Litia Iloilo died of cancer in Fiji when he was eight years old. Speight also visited Fiji two years ago to join a charitable walk with 15 children to raise money for cancer treatment. He says only half are still alive.

Fro must go: Henry Speight will shave his hair to raise money for cancer sufferers in Fiji.
Fro must go: Henry Speight will shave his hair to raise money for cancer sufferers in Fiji. Photo: Rohan Thomson

So while Speight will fly out with a full head of hair on his first  Australian Wallabies Tour of Europe on Friday, he plans to return and shave his head on December 5 in a bid to raise $10,000 for Fiji's Walk On Walk Strong Foundation – a charity raising money for and awareness of  childhood cancer.

"I know how iconic the fro has become, but it is a noble cause to shave it off for these kids who are going through a tough time back home," Speight said on Thursday.

"We lost my old lady at a very young age, she passed on in her very early 40s and I was eight then, so it's always been something that's close to my heart.

"I'm just blessed and fortunate to be in a position to give back and support the cause.

"When I first did the walk for [WOWS] in 2012 I met about 15 kids that day – the eldest was 16, the youngest was 1½  – fast forward two years and half of those kids are not with us any more."

Speight admits he was nervous ahead of selection for the Australian Wallabies Spring Tour, given former coach Ewen McKenzie resigned and Michael Cheika was appointed in his place.

Speight has played only 60 minutes of rugby since the Super Rugby semi-final in July due a lingering hamstring injury.

But after years fighting for his Australian eligibility, Speight has finally got his call-up to represent the Wallabies.

"Same as any organisation with a new coach, he comes in with his own framework and people he has in mind that can do the job," Speight said. "I'm just happy that I'm one of the 33 that he's named who he has confidence in to take away.

"I think it was going to be a nervous wait nonetheless." 

The 26-year-old is keen to get stuck straight in and play against the Barbarians at Twickenham Stadium on November 1.

It would set up another mouthwatering showdown between Speight and the "Honey Badger", former Australian Wallabies winger Nick Cummins.

But the main goal for Speight is to debut in the Wallabies' first Test on tour, against Wales at the Millenium Stadium the following Saturday.

"It's always a good battle with the Honey Badger, people don't call him Nick Cummins any more," Speight said.

"He's a quality footballer ... I've got a lot of respect for what he's done and the reasons he's done it.

"He's gone to Japan to help his two siblings and his old man, who's suffering from prostate cancer."

To donate to Speight's cause visit mycause.com.au/page/84255/thefrosgonnago

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