In-form Brumbies flyer Henry Speight has been replaced by Peter Betham in the Wallabies 32-man squad ahead of The Rugby Championship.
Henry Speight’s torn hamstring won’t delay the Fijian flyer’s long-awaited Wallabies debut but has further exposed Australia’s specialist wing depth.
NSW Waratahs reserve Peter Betham has replaced Speight in the 32-man squad for the start of The Rugby Championship after he was ruled out for a month.
Although diagnosed with a grade two tear, the red-hot Brumbies winger is expected to return to action before he finally becomes available for Australia on September 11.
“It’s disappointing for Henry but I’ve got no doubt that he’ll go back and work hard during the rehab process to get his injury healed before he becomes eligible,” said coach Ewen McKenzie.
The Wallabies had hoped to have the tackle-shedding star in their colours this time last year but eligibility dramas have pushed his likely debut back to September 13 against Argentina on the Gold Coast.
Speight, who sustained the injury in the second half of Saturday night’s Super Rugby semi-final loss to the Waratahs, had been one of just two specialist wingers in Australia’s squad.
With incumbent Nick Cummins playing in Japan, McKenzie has overlooked Melbourne Rebels winger Tom English to call up Betham.
Betham made his Test debut against the All Blacks when injuries also hit last October but is at long odds to add to his one cap in next month’s Bledisloe Cup clashes in Sydney (August 16) and Auckland (August 23).
Brumbies winger Joe Tomane was already the warm favourite to replace Cummins on the left wing while Mr Versatile, Adam Ashley-Cooper is set to stay on the right.
The losses of Digby Ioane, Drew Mitchell and James O’Connor to French clubs, plus injury to Queensland young gun Chris Feauai-Sautia, has seen McKenzie choose regular centres Pat McCabe and Rob Horne as wing options.
Betham started the season strongly for the Waratahs but a foot injury and the good form of Alofa Alofa and Horne has kept him on the bench for Saturday night’s final against the Crusaders.
“He’s a quality team member on and off the field and will be determined to make the most of the opportunity he has been given,” McKenzie said.