1. ITV Report

Halfpenny thanks teammates for the chance to write his name in history books

Leigh Halfpenny celebrates with the trophy after victory over England Photo: David Davies/PA Wire

When the Millennium Stadium announcer read out the list of players Rob Howley had chosen to take try and retain the Six Nations on Saturday there was one name that got a bigger cheer than the rest; Leigh Halfpenny.

The diminutive full back has had a tournament to remember; a run of performances that have clearly not been lost on the watching Welsh public.

His haul of 74 points was the beacon around which Wales mounted an incredible turnaround in fortunes, moving from a dismal opening half in the first game against Ireland towards one the most impressive championship titles in the tournament’s history.

So when he reflects on a championship in which he was so often the go-to man when Wales needed reliable points he would be forgiven for revelling in his success.

Not so.

“I’m thanking them, you know, for all the hard work they’re doing.

“They’re giving me the opportunity to put points over for Wales. It’s the other way round, I’m thanking all the guys for giving me the opportunity and I can’t thank them enough.

“For me, kicking for Wales is a dream come true. The pressure moments I see as a privilege. I feel lucky to be kicking for Wales – I juts love every second of it.

“Don’t get me wrong I’m nervous as hell when I’m taking them.

“But that’s what we do it all for, for games like that, for moments like today.

Lifting the championship title for the second year in a row marked an historical day for both Halfpenny, and Welsh rugby.

Not since 1979 had a Wales side retained the Five/Six Nations, before Ryan Jones and Gethin Jenkins did so in a packed Millennium Stadium.

This was though a departure from the all-together different style in which Wales secured a third Grand Slam in 8 years in 2012, a feat which was celebrated by thousands of fans in the following days as the trophy, and squad, were paraded in front of the National Assembly building in Cardiff Bay.

But 2013 was special in a different way, as much for the Wales’ apparent fall from grace in the months preceding the championship.

A run of eight games without a win lead many to question whether Wales, and Interim coach Rob Howley had lost their mojo, a feeling which Halfpenny says makes this years win the best of his career.

“I can honestly say this is the best moment of my career so far.

“It was a fantastic win in a grand slam year but I think from all the tough times that we’ve come through including the first game of this tournament, to have lost against Ireland and then to have come back like we did, three tough away games, not easy to go and do.

“To come here back home after being away for so long against England, to stop them winning the grand slam and us lifting the trophy again and retaining the title. I don’t think it gets better than that!”

More on this story