Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Halfpenny aiming high

Leigh Halfpenny

Leigh Halfpenny has underlined Wales' principal objective for this season's RBS 6 Nations Championship - to win the Grand Slam.

Stage three of that masterplan will be completed at Twickenham next Saturday if Wales defeat unbeaten Six Nations title rivals England.

"At the end of the day we want to be the best," Wales full-back Halfpenny said. "That means winning every single game and achieving the Grand Slam. That is the objective in this tournament - nothing less."

It would also give Wales their 20th championship Triple Crown and leave them requiring home victories over Italy and France to complete a second tournament clean sweep of coach Warren Gatland's four-year reign.

Rarely, if ever, in Six Nations history have Wales headed to Twickenham as favourites, but the World Cup semi-finalists are on a roll and hungry for further success.

Halfpenny added: "We are preparing for this tournament as we did the World Cup, which was another tournament we set out to win. We want to be the best, and we set high goals to bring the best out of us.

"We train as hard as possible, and nothing less than our best will do. Everyone is ambitious, from the coaches to the players. Winning trophies is our goal, and we believe we can achieve that."

Halfpenny led from the front during Wales' opening two victories over Ireland and Scotland, kicking a match-winning penalty in Dublin under intense pressure and then amassing 22 points - including two tries - when the Scots succumbed in Cardiff.

And the 23-year-old, who is poised to win his 30th cap next weekend, puts much of Wales' current success down to the punishing, spartan training camp they endured in freezing Poland last month.

"We were pushed to the limits of our endurance - and beyond - out there," he said. "Your mind is drained, and you need the support of your team-mates to lift you and pull you through, making sure we all get to the finishing line."