Halfpenny relishing pressure of replacing Wilkinson
July 3, 2014
Leigh Halfpenny's skills from the tee will be invaluable for Toulon © Getty Images
Leigh Halfpenny is relishing the chance to take on the kicking duties from the now-retired Jonny Wilkinson but admits he has big boots to fill at Toulon.
Halfpenny is one of Toulon's main summer signings and will arrive at the double-winners charged with emulating their trophy-laden 2013-14 campaign. Central to their charge to both the Top 14 and Heineken Cup last season was Wilkinson but with him now retired, Halfpenny is likely to be the man charged with kicking from the tee for Toulon.
"They are big shoes to fill. He's been a fantastic servant to rugby and a role model for rugby players and children growing up through rugby - he certainly was for me," Halfpenny said. "To be joining Toulon after him leaving is a huge privilege for me. I'm looking forward to it, but it's a lot of pressure."
And Halfpenny is relishing the chance to work alongside Wilkinson who is staying at Toulon in a skills coach capacity. "I'm looking forward to working with him, his knowledge of kicking and his all-round game and skills are fantastic. I'm very excited to be working and learning from him, as well as from my normal coach Neil Jenkins.
"You're always looking to improve and that's what I was looking for with the move to Toulon. Working with Jonny along with Neil Jenkins, I can improve my kicking and all-round game, I hope."
Halfpenny will vie with Delon Armitage for the fullback berth and is fully aware he will not be able to stroll straight into Toulon's XV. "Looking at the squad, there's quality in every position, it gives you massive confidence. There's huge competition for places," Halfpenny said. "I'll have to earn my place in the squad firstly, then bring my running and kicking game in.
"It's all about how to mix in with the boys and make a positive impact on people and that's all I've got to do."
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