Rugby World Cup: Halfpenny gets chance to sparkle
Wales star Leigh Halfpenny is determined to take the chance he has been waiting for when he lines up against Ireland in tomorrow’s opening World Cup quarter-final.
Halfpenny has been given the nod at full-back, rather than on the wing, and preferred ahead of British and Irish Lions Test players James Hook and Lee Byrne.
But it is a return to the position he regularly filled while rising through the age-grade ranks until graduating as a senior Test match player.
“For me, it is a dream come true,” Halfpenny said.
“I have always wanted to play full-back for my country and what a time to do it, in the quarter-final of the World Cup. I couldn't wish for more.
“I always played full-back growing up. It is just where I felt I belonged, really, where I have felt most comfortable. I feel I have had my better performances there.”
Halfpenny will hope to shine as part of a razor-sharp Wales back division in attack, but with rain and wind having battered Wellington for much of this week, he knows Ireland's strong kicking game could put him under the microscope.
“If it is wet and windy I would imagine they are going to put it (the ball) up quite a bit. But who knows? They could run it,” he added.
“Whatever they do we will hopefully be prepared for it. I am looking forward to the challenge in the air and looking forward to owning the sky.
“I am extremely excited about our back-line. It's full of talent, pace, skill and power. It's quite deadly, and it is crucial we get good ball and express ourselves.
“We know where our strengths are and we need to execute everything we've got. If chances come in Test rugby, it is important you take them.”