Planet Rugby

The British & Irish Lions


Halfpenny the man to beat - Kearney

13th March 2013 12:11


Rob Kearney and Leigh Halfpenny 2013

Battle: Kearney and Halfpenny

Ireland full-back Rob Kearney believes Welsh rival Leigh Halfpenny is in pole position to claim the Lions 15 jersey in Australia.

Kearney and Halfpenny both travelled with the Lions in 2009 to South Africa, with Kearney winning the full-back slot and excelling in the Test series against the Springboks.

Halfpenny's excellent form with the boot for Wales throughout the Six Nations however has seen him tipped by many to win the race this time round in Australia.

"Leigh's goalkicking alone has made him the standout full-back of the Six Nations. Wales have won a huge amount of games with his kicking skills," said Kearney.

"For me it's quite frustrating because receiving kicks was always a great way to get into games, get some ball and display my strengths.

"That's something I've definitely struggled with throughout this campaign. It shows a little bit as well in terms of my own touches. It's a case of trying to not get too frustrated by it and trying to find other ways to get into the game, although that hasn't been helped by the conditions we've been playing in.

"Last weekend against France was only my seventh start this season because of injury. I always think it's around six, seven or eight games that you start getting back into the run of things."

"Of course it crosses your mind that this weekend is the last major stage to impress Lions selectors, but selection will have been going on throughout the last year. Although a huge amount of emphasis has been put on the Six Nations, it's not the be-all and end-all.

"It's not the only shop window to stake your claim. It's important to recognise that when the team does well, individuals do well. Once you start trying to play as individuals, that's when the team suffers. Ultimately then the player will suffer."