Halfpenny happy with home comforts
March 29, 2013
Wales' Leigh Halfpenny was named the Player of the Championship in this year's Six Nations © Getty Images
Wales fullback Leigh Halfpenny has hinted that he is prepared to commit his long-term future to Welsh rugby.
Halfpenny helped steer Wales to Six Nations glory earlier this month and was recently rewarded with the Player of the Championship honour. The 24-year-old's stock is set to rise even further if, as expected, he earns selection for the British & Irish Lions' tour of Australia later this year but he has no immediate plans to cash in on his outstanding form and turn his back on PRO12 side Cardiff Blues.
"For me, as far as I am concerned, I am contracted to the Blues for this year and next year," Halfpenny told PA Sport. "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."
Wales have suffered a talent drain in recent years with the likes of Mike Phillips, James Hook, Gethin Jenkins, Lee Byrne and Luke Charteris all opting to move to France with fellow internationals Jamie Roberts and Dan Lydiate set to join them in the next few months.
But Alex Cuthbert and Dan Bigger have recently bucked that trend by committing their future to the Blues and the Ospreys respectively and Halfpenny appears keen to join them although on current form it would take a sizeable offer from the Blues to keep him in the country. But Halfpenny has signalled his willingness to remain in Wales. "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," he said.
Halfpenny will be back on domestic duty this weekend with the Millennium Stadium set to play host to a PRO12 double header that will see the Blues tackle the Ospreys and Dragons take on the Scarlets. It will mean a return to the venue where Wales clinched back-to-back Six Nations with Halfpenny still coming to terms with the praise heaped on him in the days since their latest championship triumph.
"I've been really overwhelmed by it all," he added. "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.
"The first thing I did was to look at the names on there, legends of the game. To be in among names like that is just mad. It's just what dreams are made of to be even mentioned in the same breath as names that are on the trophy."
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