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Henry Speight just as dangerous as Israel Folau, says Joe Roff

Henry Speight proved tough for the Chiefs to handle.

Henry Speight proved tough for the Chiefs to handle. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

Code-hopper Israel Folau might be the pin-up boy of the Australian Rugby Union and the NSW Waratahs' star fullback, but ACT Brumbies legend Joe Roff believes Fijian flyer Henry Speight is such a damaging gamebreaker Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie would be counting down the days to September 11 – the day Speight becomes eligible to play for his adopted country.

The two shape as potential match winners when the Brumbies and Waratahs go head-to-head in a blockbuster Super Rugby semi-final at the Sydney Football Stadium on Saturday night.

Folau has been hailed as the saviour of Australian rugby, with forecasts of doom and gloom if he defects back to rugby league at the end of his contract.

15. Ben Smith (Highlanders) Click for more photos

Super Rugby team of the week - July 20

Paul Cully selects the best players from the weekend qualifying finals. Photo: AFP

He's the leading tryscorer in the competition with 12 and has made the Wallabies fullback position his own in just his second season.

But Roff felt Speight was just as dangerous.

The Bro with the Fro was Australia's leading tryscorer in Super Rugby in 2012-13, but has an injury-interrupted season has restricted him to just two tries this year.

But he was brilliant in the Brumbies' nailbiting 32-30 qualifying final victory over the Waikato Chiefs on Saturday.

The 26-year-old played like a man possessed with his older brother Sam sitting in the stands – it was the first time any of Speight's siblings had seen him play a Super Rugby game and it brought out one of the performances of his career.

Every time he got the ball it would take two or three Chiefs to bring him down, as he charged his way to 186 metres in the knockout final.

Roff said he was just as damaging as Folau.

"I've got no doubt Ewen McKenzie's waiting and rubbing his hands together for Henry to become eligible," he said.

"That can't come quick enough given his current form.

"With players like that, you can sense the crowd get out of their chair when people like that touch the ball and I really enjoy watching his form at the moment."

Speight's performance left everyone with no doubt he will be a damaging player at international level as well.

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie said he was ready and Brumbies director of rugby Laurie Fisher labelled his flyer as world class.

"His ferocity with ball in hand, he just doesn't want to be tackled and it's outstanding," Fisher said.

"What Henry's been able to deliver recently is absolutely world class and there's no reason why he wouldn't be producing something similar next weekend."

Fisher said Folau would have an impact on the semi at some point – it was about the Brumbies being prepared to try to minimise the damage.

Roff agreed and said there were world-class players right across the park.

The Brumbies had 14 Wallabies in the 23 that beat the Chiefs, while the Tahs had 13 internationals in their last outing.

Roff said there were mouth-watering match-ups everywhere – Matt Toomua v Bernard Foley, Nic White v Nick Phipps, Christian Lealiifano v Kurtley Beale.

He felt it didn't just point to an enthralling contest, but boded well for the Wallabies' future as well.

"There are just some really outstanding players and you can't sit through a game like this on the weekend and not think that Australian rugby has some significant justification to feel optimistic about the Rugby Championship and the team going forward given the form of the Super Rugby sides this year," Roff said.

SUPER RUGBY SEMI-FINAL

NSW Waratahs v ACT Brumbies

At Allianz Stadium, Saturday 7.40pm

History: Waratahs 13 wins, Brumbies 11.

In Sydney: Waratahs 11, Brumbies 2

Last clash: Round 17, 2014 – Waratahs bt Brumbies 39-8 at SFS

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Paul Cully selects the best players from the weekend qualifying finals.

Wallabies teammates Israel Folau and Henry Speight won't give inch in Brumbies-Waratahs battle

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Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 0vs FJI 0 05:00Twic
TGA 0vs GEO 0 21:00Kholm
IRE 0vs CAN 0 23:30MilS
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs JPN 0 01:45Brig
FRA 0vs ITA 0 05:00Twic
SAM 0vs USA 0 21:00Brig
WAL 0vs URU 0 23:30MilS
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs ARG 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 0vs JPN 0 23:30Kholm
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs ROM 0 05:00Olym
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs NAM 0 05:00Olym
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 0vs GEO 0 01:45Kholm
ITA 0vs CAN 0 23:30Ella
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SAM 0 01:45Villa
ENG 0vs WAL 0 05:00Twic
AUS 0vs URU 0 21:00Villa
SCO 0vs USA 0 23:30Ella
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 0vs ROM 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 0vs NAM 0 01:45Sand
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs CAN 0 05:00stadium:mk
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs GEO 0 05:00MilS
SAM 0vs JPN 0 23:30stadium:mk
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SCO 0 01:45St James' Park
ENG 0vs AUS 0 06:00Twic
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 0vs TGA 0 00:30KPS
IRE 0vs ITA 0 02:45Olym
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 0vs ROM 0 02:45KPS
FJI 0vs URU 0 06:00stadium:mk
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 0vs USA 0 02:45Olym
NAM 0vs GEO 0 06:00Sand
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 0vs TGA 0 06:00St James' Park
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 0vs SCO 0 00:30St James' Park
AUS 0vs WAL 0 02:45Twic
ENG 0vs URU 0 06:00Manch
ARG 0vs NAM 0 22:00KPS
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
USA 0vs JPN 0 06:00Kholm
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinB 0vs RUpA 0 02:00Twic
WinC 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs RUpC 0 23:00MilS
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinA 0vs RUpB 0 02:00Twic
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF1 0vs WQF2 0 02:00Twic
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
LSF1 0vs LSF2 0 07:00Olym
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSF1 0vs WSF2 0 03:00Twic
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
France 0 0 0 0 0 0
New Zealand 0 0 0 0 0 0
Canada 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tonga 0 0 0 0 0 0
Japan 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Romania 0 0 0 0 0 0
Argentina 0 0 0 0 0 0
England 0 0 0 0 0 0
Georgia 0 0 0 0 0 0
Scotland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 0 0 0 0 0 0
USA 0 0 0 0 0 0
Italy 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ireland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Fiji 0 0 0 0 0 0
Samoa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Namibia 0 0 0 0 0 0
South Africa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Wales 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
 

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