Reds release Wallaby Speight to Biarritz

Wallabies winger Henry Speight is headed to French club Biarritz after securing a release from the Queensland Reds.

HENRY SPEIGHT.
HENRY SPEIGHT. Picture: Dan Mullan/Getty Images

The Queensland Rugby Union has agreed to release Wallabies winger Henry Speight to French club Biarritz Olympique on a three-year deal.

Signed through 2021 with Queensland, the 32-year-old veteran of 19 Tests for Australia only joined the Queensland Reds this season after nine seasons with the Brumbies.

He had started in all seven games this year, scoring three tries before the season was interrupted by the coronavirus shutdown.

Speight will be the fourth player to exit the Reds during the shutdown, after Wallabies lock Izack Rodda and young guns Harry Hockings and Isaac Lucas.

While the departure of that trio was acrimonious, the QRU was at pains to stress the "respectful" nature of their negotiations with Speight and Biarritz.

The Reds are due to bring in another Fijian winger in 24-year-old NRL star Suliasi Vunivalu next season, having signed him late last year on a two-year deal.

Speight was grateful to be allowed to secure his future with a lengthy deal in Europe.

"My family and I are unbelievably grateful that, from the board down, our request was dealt with respect and that the organisation was ultimately sympathetic to the opportunity that lies in front of us," he said.

Red coach Brad Thorn praised Speight's contribution.

"Henry has been great for our program. He is a true gentleman and a family man who brought plenty of experience and knowledge.

"He was well respected and a lot of the guys here looked-up to him for advice both on-and-off the field.

"We'll miss Henry, but we're happy to send him along his way. He's contributed so much for Australian Rugby for more than a decade. We wish him and his family all the best for their next chapter in France.

"When one door closes, another one opens. It's awesome we have another quality player in Suliasi Vunivalu set to join our program.

"It'll be exciting to see him battle fellow Fijian Filipo Daugunu and others within our squad for those wing spots next year."


AAP