| 7.9°C Belfast

Dai Young embraces Leigh Halfpenny to Wasps rumours


Toulon full-back Leigh Halfpenny is reportedly a target for Wasps

Toulon full-back Leigh Halfpenny is reportedly a target for Wasps

Toulon full-back Leigh Halfpenny is reportedly a target for Wasps

Leigh Halfpenny is the latest household name to be linked with Wasps as director of rugby Dai Young outlines his intent to make high-calibre signings for next season.

Reports in Wales state the British and Irish Lions full-back is ready to leave Toulon next summer with the Ricoh Arena among possible destinations that also include the Blues and Scarlets.

Wasps lose All Black Charles Piutau to Ulster at the end of the season and will need a replacement, but a week after denying an offer has been tabled for Leicester wrecking-ball Manu Tuilagi, Young has distanced himself from Halfpenny.

Armed with the cash generated by the relocation to Coventry and the draw of playing at a club seemingly ready to reclaim their place at the Aviva Premiership's top table, Young expects to strengthen at the highest possible level.

"We will make no bones about it - this is recruitment season and we are looking at getting the best for us," Young said.

"There is no point me saying much more than that we are at a point where we are looking to strengthen our squad.

"Leigh Halfpenny is an obvious one because of the Charles Piutau situation - we have got Rob Miller as well, he is an England Saxon in his own right.

"I know Leigh really well. I was at Cardiff when he came through the system. We all know he is a quality player. So is Manu.

"I'm just looking forward to seeing who we get linked with next week! It is a great situation to be in, getting linked with these players."

An existing member of Wasps' current squad could be a household name by the end of next year with Fijian-born Nathan Hughes having started the season in explosive fashion.

Hughes qualifies for England on residency grounds at the end of June and while he will not be available for the summer tour to Australia, new head coach Eddie Jones is sure to award him his first cap in the autumn.

Young insists the 24-year-old would be ready for the Test arena now and also believes he can play at blindside flanker as well as his more accustomed position at number eight.

"Nathan plays against top internationals week in, week out and he does the job. He's got international written all over him," Young said.

"When we were looking at Nathan it was all doom and gloom because we'd lost Billy Vunipola to Saracens, so we were looking for someone to replace Billy and they're big shoes to fill.

"When he came on board I wasn't sure if he was a six or eight, but he's really developed into an eight with us. But he'd be equally comfortable playing six because his line-out ability is really good.

"This season he's added a lot to fitness so he's in games for long periods and isn't drifting in and out.

"His defence is unrecognisable from last year, he's putting in big hits and high numbers, which is what I'd want from my six. And he's a lineout option."

Second row Joe Launchbury is a doubt for Saturday's Premiership showdown with Exeter at the Ricoh Arena because of a hamstring injury.