Halfpenny: We must express ourselves
October 10, 2011
Leigh Halfpenny has been in sensational form in the World Cup © Getty Images
Leigh Halfpenny believes Wales must make it business as usual when they take their all-action game into a World Cup semi-final against France next Saturday.
Wales have already ensured their best World Cup campaign since the inaugural tournament 24 years ago after a pulsating last-eight victory over Ireland. And now only Les Bleus stand between them and a place in the Eden Park final, where New Zealand or Australia will await on October 23.
And Wales fullback Halfpenny has no doubt one of the tournament's most entertaining teams need to maintain their adventurous approach.
"We can't afford to go into our shells," he said. "We have to go out and express ourselves. If we don't do that, we will lose before we even take the field, so that is not an option. We are a team that plays rugby and we try to make the right decisions on the ball."
Halfpenny was one of the star performers against Ireland, shining in attack and defence, and it would be a major surprise if he is not retained in his favourite position when Wales tackle France.
"I said before the (Ireland) game that to start at fullback for my country in a World Cup quarter-final was a dream come true," he added.
"The game itself was incredible. I just concentrated on my performance and tried to make sure I did all my roles as best I could. I thoroughly enjoyed it at fullback, I just love being there. It was an absolute pleasure to be stood behind the team that was in front of me.
"Putting on the Wales jersey is everything to me, wherever that is. I am a back-three player."
Wales have only beaten France once in the countries' last seven meetings - during the 2008 Six Nations Grand Slam season - but such is their sense of belief it is a statistic that appears largely irrelevant.
"We've said all along that we are not here just to make up the numbers," Halfpenny said. "We want to seriously win. All the hard work we have put in is paying off, and we are not satisfied with reaching the semi-finals.
"We will enjoy it because as a group we haven't been here before, and who knows if we will be here again, but there is still plenty to come. There is a feeling we can go the whole way, and we are determined to do that.
"We are a rugby nation and we've had tremendous support from all the fans who have come out here. They've been here throughout the tournament for us, and we can't thank them enough. I am sure it means a lot back home."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"Some people have it from day one and Brian did." Tom Hamilton talks to the two players who made their Ireland debuts alongside Brian O'Driscoll back in June 1999
Despite having lost all four of their 2014 Six Nations games, the future of Italian rugby is bright with the team showing a new youthful core, argues Enrico Borra
"The loudest cheer at a rugby game, away from social media gimmicks, pumping music and pyrotechnics will always be for a try." Tom Hamilton on the Twickenham atmosphere
"The only thing that will stop this England team from becoming a great team is themselves. They need to ask themselves 'what can we be?'" The Phil Vickery column