HENRY SPEIGHT: Ulster signing ‘excited’ about Belfast switch

Australian international Henry Speight
Australian international Henry Speight

Ulster are hoping Henry Speight will have the same impact as fellow Brumbie Christian Lealiifano.

With Tommy Bowe, Andrew Trimble, Jared Payne and Paul Marshall all retired - coupled with long-term injuries to Louie Ludik and Luke Marshall - Ulster have signed the back three player on a short-term deal similar to Lealiifano’s last season.

Lealiifano was an instant hit with the Ulster faithful, scoring 47 points in 17 appearances.

Speight, capped 19 times by Australia, will want to have the same influence before returning to Canberra when his deal expires on December 31.

“I’m excited to have the opportunity to represent a big club like Ulster,” said Speight.

“I’ve spoken to Christian a lot regarding this move and he had only great things to say about the staff, players, supporters and wider community, which welcomed him with open arms.

“This is a fresh challenge for me and I hope to embrace it by relishing every moment and by adding value to the group as best I can, I can’t wait to arrive in Belfast and get to work with my new teammates.”

Speight missed the Wallabies test series against Ireland in the summer and picked up an ankle injury in the Brumbies’ final Super Rugby game of the season but has been medically cleared and should make his competitive Ulster debut in the Pro14 season opener against the Scarlets at Kingspan Stadium.

The 30-year-old has already tasted life in Belfast, he scored 25 points for the country of his birth, Fiji, in the 2007 U19 World Cup held in the province.

“Henry has X factor quality,” said Ulster Operations Director Bryn Cunningham. “He has consistently proven himself as a top performer at both Super Rugby and international level, with his most recent displays for the Brumbies being eye-catching.”