Halfpenny needed Toulon challenge

Date published: July 2 2014

Leigh Halfpenny is still a couple of weeks away from full training but the Wales full-back is aiming to shine for his new club Toulon.

Leigh Halfpenny is still a couple of weeks away from full training but the Wales full-back is aiming to shine for his new club, Top 14 titleholders and reigning two-time European champions Toulon.

Halfpenny underwent surgery on a dislocated shoulder sustained against England during the Six Nations in March, meaning he will only be fit to resume full pre-season training with Toulon later this month as he completes his long rehabilitation.

The 25-year-old is the latest high-profile signing for the star-studded French giants, one of many ahead of the new campaign along with Fabien Barcella, Mamuka Gorgodze, Guilhem Guirado, James O'Connor and Gerhard Vosloo.

“It's a huge challenge coming to Toulon, a challenge I was looking for in my rugby career. It's a challenge in rugby and in my life,” said Halfpenny.

“The team here is fantastic, full of quality players from around the world.

“Its success speaks for itself over the last couple of years and I'm very excited to be part of it for next season.”

Halfpenny has been touted as the man to take over place-kicking duties from ex-England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson, who retired after guiding Toulon to the double last season but is staying on with the club in a coaching role.

“They are big shoes to fill in terms of kicking. He's been a fantastic servant to rugby and a role model for rugby players and children growing up through rugby – he certainly was one for me,” added Halfpenny.

“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!

“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 (the ex-Wales fly-half).

“You're always looking to improve and you can always improve in your game and that's what I was looking for in my game with the move to Toulon, working with Jonny with kicking along with Neil Jenkins, I can improve my kicking and all-round game, I hope.”

Halfpenny will certainly not have it all his own way, given the strength in depth of the squad, notably with current full-back Delon Armitage in sparkling form last season.

“Looking at the squad, there's quality in every position, it gives you massive confidence. There's huge competition for places.

“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.”