Wales and Cardiff Blues full-back Leigh Halfpenny has stated that he loves playing rugby in Wales after committing to the Blues.
Halfpenny was one of the stars of Wales title-winning Six Nations championship over the last two months, but despite significant interest from clubs in France and elsewhere has committed to the Blues for next season, highlighting the importance of keeping the best young Welsh talent playing in the country.
"For me, as far as I am concerned, I am contracted to the Blues for this year and next year," said Halfpenny to the Daily Post. "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.
"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."
After his excellent performances throughout the Six Nations, Halfpenny was named as the 2013 Six Nations player of the championship, following in the footsteps of flanker Dan Lydiate the year before.
Looking back on Wales' outstanding performance against England in Cardiff, Halfpenny admits that the whole experience has been a lot to take in ahead of the 'Judgement Day' fixtures at the Millennium Stadium this weekend between the four Welsh regions.
"I've been really overwhelmed by it all," added Halfpenny. "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.
"It's going to be a bit strange, because you've been team-mates for the last two months and then you are hitting lumps out of each other the next week. I am sure there will be a lot of banter out there with the boys. It's a new challenge, and one that is going to be great for everyone involved.
"It's a great occasion, all four regions playing in the Millennium Stadium on one day, and I believe one that will show the quality that there is playing in the Welsh regions."