Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 10 July 2014

Halfpenny happy to stay at home

Leigh Halfpenny was named this year's RBS 6 Nations Player of the Championship

Leigh Halfpenny could probably name his price on current form if he was for sale in rugby union's transfer market.

This season's RBS 6 Nations Player of the Championship, Halfpenny will see his stock rise even further in three months' time if, as expected, he becomes the British and Irish Lions' Test full-back against Australia. Wealthy French clubs, in particular, would fall over themselves if a mad scramble for Halfpenny's services ever ensued.

But Halfpenny, who, at the age of 24 has already won 44 Wales caps and amassed almost 300 Test points, said: "For me, as far as I am concerned, I am contracted to the Blues for this year and next year. I love playing rugby in Wales. It's fantastic. It's where I am from, it's my home, and as far as I am concerned I am happy playing my rugby in Wales."

He added: "It is hugely important that we keep our players in Wales and keep our youngsters here. It's hugely important for Welsh rugby as a whole that we do so."

Halfpenny's Wales colleagues Alex Cuthbert and Dan Biggar have both recently committed their immediate playing futures at the Blues and Ospreys, respectively, but retaining top players remains an ongoing battle for the four Welsh professional regions.

Halfpenny, meanwhile, returns to the Millennium Stadium on Saturday for 'Judgement Day', when the Blues will tackle the Ospreys in part two of a RaboDirect PRO12 double-header that also sees Newport Gwent Dragons and the Scarlets in action.

It comes just a fortnight after Wales destroyed England in record-breaking fashion, the final game of a title-winning Six Nations campaign that ended with Halfpenny being voted as the tournament's top performer.

"I've been really overwhelmed by it all," he said. "But for me it's not about the award. I am obviously really honoured and privileged to have received it, but for me it was about lifting the trophy again with the boys.

"That was just incredible. To lift it for the second year running was just an amazing feeling, and to have done it in front of our home fans at the Millennium Stadium in the manner that we did was incredible.

"I am hugely honoured and privileged to have received that award, which has been received by so many fantastic players in the past."

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