Canberra Vikings players, Henry Speight, left and Joe Tomane have some fun ahead of Saturday's game. Photo: Graham Tidy
Wallaby in waiting Henry Speight will use his first National Rugby Championship appearance to prove he's ready for Test duties as he prepares to end a four-year wait to play for Australia.
Speight will play for the Canberra Vikings on Saturday, counting down the days until he's eligible to play for the Wallabies and hoping the Department of Immigration finally clears his siblings to visit Australia.
Fijian-born Speight's drawn-out eligibility saga will end on September 11, making him available to play for the Wallabies against South Africa on September 13.
Immigration is still refusing his brother, Jerry, and sister, Davila, temporary visitor visas to Australia because they are deemed a risk of becoming asylum seekers.
But even if they remain in Fiji, Speight has vowed to do everything in his power to make them feel a part of his Test debut if he is selected next week, including sending photos home from the Wallabies' change rooms.
"It's nine days to go, but who's counting?" he grinned.
"It's been a tough one for me. I certainly had a few doubts in my mind [if I would ever play for Australia]. I just want to prove myself and make sure when the date comes around I'm in contention.
"It's been almost four years now ... I'm excited. I haven't said that before because I've been ticking the days off from months, to weeks, to days.
"But now it's in single-digit days. It's been a long wait ... my family's situation is still pending. But they will still be with me one way or another - I'll make them feel a part of it."
The ACT Brumbies' "fro bros", Speight and Joseph Tomane, will make their comebacks from hamstring injuries to play for Canberra against Queensland Country on Saturday.
The wing duo believe they can transfer their try-scoring partnership to Test level and want to show Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie they're primed for a call-up.
Tomane has been plagued by a "Wallabies curse", suffering constant injuries while on the cusp of cementing his Test place.
The NRL convert has played nine Tests in three years and was set to play both Bledisloe Cup matches against the All Blacks last month before he tore his hamstring.
"Higher honours is my goal this year, I want to play for the Wallabies," he said. "But right now I just want to put in a good performance and try to focus on playing well. I might go and see a witch doctor or something [to fix the injury curse]."
Under IRB eligibility rules, Speight had to live in Australia for three years before being available for Wallabies selection. He arrived in Canberra to join the Brumbies at the end of 2010, but a brief playing stint in New Zealand triggered an eligibility debacle and the Fijian flyer was forced to wait four years before getting his chance with the Wallabies.
It's likely McKenzie will inject Speight straight into the Wallabies line-up after his superb form over the past two seasons.
Speight has written to Immigration Minister Scott Morrison with supporting letters from the Brumbies, the ARU and ACT Senator Kate Lundy. It's understood Brumbies board members are keen to throw their support behind Speight's case.
It's likely Tomane and Speight will be fighting for the same Wallabies jersey next week, but Tomane said they wanted to transfer their partnership to international level.
"There's two wing spots, I don't think there's a problem there," Tomane said. "We can play at the Brumbies together, why can't we do that at the Wallabies? I'm hoping to play with him in Wallaby gold, I'm gutted that it's taken him so long to be eligible for Australia."
NATIONAL RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIPS ROUND 3
Saturday: Canberra Vikings v Queensland Country at Viking Park, 2.30pm. Tickets available at the gate.