Grafton rugby products Bryce Speechley (left) and Tom Ellem are both playing in Sydney. Speechley made his first-grade debut for Randwick at the weekend.
Grafton rugby products Bryce Speechley (left) and Tom Ellem are both playing in Sydney. Speechley made his first-grade debut for Randwick at the weekend. Adam Hourigan

Rub of the green

IT was only a matter of time before Bryce Speechley made the big time in rugby.

With size, skill and natural talent the former Grafton Redmen lock was destined to play rugby on the big stage.

The 22-year-old has done just that, taking the next step on the road to rugby stardom by being named in Randwick's first-grade side in Sydney's premier rugby competition, the Shute Shield.

Speechley received a call-up to the top grade last week by coach John Maxwell and on Saturday had a taste of high-level rugby for a second time.

"When I got the call-up to play against Manly last week it was a feeling of relief," the 103kg second-rower told the Examiner yesterday.

"To get selected in first grade after coming through Colts was an honour and what made my debut more special was mum and dad were there to watch."

Playing against the cream of Sydney rugby players in your debut can be a daunting assignment for most players but for Speechley some sound advice from his coach helped settle the butterflies in his stomach.

"There were a few nerves but not as many as I thought," he said.

"John Maxwell and a few of the senior players told me to do the same things on the field as I have been because that's what got me into first grade.

"They told me to back myself and have self belief.

"John's a very hard-knock type of footy coach and knows a lot about forward play in the modern game.

"And our backs are coached by Mark Ella who definitely knows his stuff."

Known as the Galloping Greens, Randwick are renowned for their 'running' rugby but it's at the breakdown where Speechley noticed a distinct difference from playing in the lower grades.

"First grade is a lot quicker and at the breakdown it's more of a contest," he said.

"There are a lot more big hits and the contact is pretty much full on."

For Randwick it's been a mediocre start to their season, losing to Manly last week before going down 29-22 to Gordon on Saturday.

It doesn't get any easier for Randwick when they take on a strong Sydney Uni next round.

Speechley, who suffered a scare during Saturday's match with a neck injury, will be hoping club doctors give him the all clear this week.

"I actually got concussion and when I woke up I felt some minor pins and needles but I'm okay now," Speechley said.

"I'll be seeing the physio this week after having a MIR scan. Hopefully I'll be right to play on the weekend."



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