Retiring Leigh Halfpenny says the 'the future is bright' for Wales
Leigh Halfpenny says the ‘the future is bright’ for Wales as the 34-year-old prepares to make his final appearance in the red jersey against the Barbarians
- Leigh Halfpenny will play his last game for Wales in Cardiff on Saturday
- Four-time Six Nations winner plans to carry on playing club rugby next season
- New Zealand Super Rugby giants Crusaders leading race to sign the full-back
Leigh Halfpenny declared ‘the future is bright’ for Welsh rugby as he prepares to bid farewell at international level after a glittering 15-year Test career.
Halfpenny will play his last game for Wales in a controversial match with the Barbarians at Principality Stadium on Saturday, one which takes place on the same day as a Welsh domestic derby.
The 34-year-old, who won 101 caps for his country and is third on Wales’ all-time list of men’s points scorers for Wales with 801, decided to retire from Tests after the World Cup.
Since his Wales debut in 2008, the Wales full-back shirt has been dominated by Halfpenny and Liam Williams but both players are now moving on.
‘Liam was a world class full-back and has been incredible for Wales. We’re good mates and it’s been a pleasure to play alongside him. He’s a good friend,’ Halfpenny said.
Wales star Leigh Halfpenny prepares to bid farewell after a glittering 15-year Test career
‘Obviously we’ve had that competition but it’s never got in the way of that friendship. He’s been unbelievable. You’ve got Josh Adams and Louis Rees-Zammit who have played there (full-back). ‘When they have, they’ve done an incredible job for Wales. You’ve got Tom Rogers. He’s a bright talent. I’m sure he’s got an exciting future ahead of him.
‘You’ve got Jacob Beetham at Cardiff, Cai Evans at the Dragons and I worked with the likes of Cameron Winnett from Cardiff and Iestyn Hopkins at the Ospreys while with the Under-20’s.
‘The future is bright and there’s lots of talent coming through. It’s really exciting. I look forward to supporting them from the stands. I’m really excited for the future for Wales.’
Halfpenny’s relentless kicking accuracy and defensive solidarity made him a key figure in one of Welsh rugby’s most successful periods.
The four-time Six Nations winner plans to carry on playing club rugby next season and it is understood a move to the southern hemisphere is likely.
New Zealand Super Rugby giants Crusaders are the leading contenders to sign Halfpenny but Japanese sides have also expressed an interest.
‘I now just have a feeling of huge gratitude for the opportunities to wear the jersey over the last 15 years,’ said Halfpenny, who also won four caps for the British & Irish Lions and was man of the series in the 2-1 series win in Australia in 2013.
‘It’s been an absolute privilege to put on the Welsh shirt. I’d like to carry on playing for another couple of seasons if I can.’
Halfpenny will say goodbye to Welsh rugby at Principality Stadium against the Barbarians who will have former Wales captains Alun Wyn Jones and Justin Tipuric in their ranks.
Both Jones and Tipuric also retired from international rugby before the World Cup.
Jones – the world’s most capped player – will quit all rugby after this weekend.
The four-time Six Nations winner plans to carry on playing club rugby next season
Ospreys captain Tipuric has been given permission to play for the Barbarians instead of his region even though they play against the Sharks in London on Friday night.
‘It was a difficult decision to make, but this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me to face my home nation and play against some of my best mates,’ Tipuric said.
Interim Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Nigel Walker has admitted there should have been no clash between Wales’ match with the Barbarians and United Rugby Championship fixtures.
The fact Wales’ four regions will be without key players who are in action for Wales this weekend has angered supporters of the country’s domestic sides.
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