Henry Speight hoping to sign off European Champions Cup with Ulster on a double high

Ulster Rugby's Henry Speight
Ulster Rugby's Henry Speight

Henry Speight admits he is disappointed in a way that he will not be with Ulster for their final two pool games in the European Champions Cup.

The Australia looked genuinely ‘down in the dumps’ earlier this week when talking about the fact he would be leaving before the New Year after his short-term loan deal finished.

It is a similar situation to his Brumbies teammate Christian Lealiifano, the outhalf who signed on a similar short term arrangement last year.

Ulster will face the Scarlets over the next fortnight in the traditional back-to-back Heineken Cup fixtures in Pool Four.

They will then have three Irish derby Guinness PRO14 games against Munster (home), Connacht (away) and Leinster (away) - with a trip to Galway on December 28 Speight’s final game in the Ulster jersey.

Speight said: “I think over the weekend and you get into the first days of December it’s in the back of your mind that you don’t have much longer to go.

“The thought of it is a bit saddening in a way. I’ve really enjoyed being a part of this club and this province and this country so my aim is to try and help out and contribute as much as I can and hopefully watching from afar see the boys carry on and make the province and the jersey proud.”

He added: “I will spend Christmas here, then the Connacht game and I pretty much spend New Year’s in the air to fly back to Oz. I dunno which time zone I’ll be in?

“So New Years, yeah, we could miss it completely or we could cross over twice so cheers to that,” he smiled.

The winger had a short injury spell, but has made eight appearances, scoring two tries.

“He perhaps has not made the impact some may have hoped, but he certainly is focused on making an impression in Europe.

“These two games are very important, not just to myself but as a club and our position in the pool so it’s a very important week to look forward to.

“We have a big challenge ahead of us but it’s exciting to be a part of it.

“I missed the last two (European) games so I want to put another performance on the pot not just that myself but as a collective we can be proud of.”

Meanwhile, outhalf Billy Burns accepts while this may not be a pivotal game, it is crucial in European terms.

Ulster lie in third place a point behind Leicester Tigers and three ahead of bottom placed Scarlets.

“I think any game now is crucial whether in Europe or the PRO14,” he said.

“These games are the ones that put you in the position to accelerate on.

“It going to be a tough challenge over there, and they have obviously not picked up too many points in Europe.

“For us it is not about looking at the bigger picture too much.

“It is about making sure we go over there and play the game we want to play and hopefully a positive result at the end of it and then the group will take care of itself.”

Burns went on: “It is all about building pressure. Games are lost and won in little moments, it is just making sure you are not the team who switch off when those little moments happen.

“This is a great competition and it is one all the boys love playing in. It is just about embracing that, going over there and sort of having no fear, but also knowing we have a really good chance of going well in this competition, and if we can go and get a good performance over there it would put us in a good position to go forward.”