British and Irish Lions full back Leigh Halfpenny believes his battle with Scottish opposite number Stuart Hogg for a place in Lions starting 15 will make him even better.
The diminutive Blues man was yesterday named as one of 15 Wales players in Warren Gatland’s squad to tour Australia this summer as they look for a first win down-under since 1989.
Halfpenny and Hogg were, by many people’s estimations, the stand-out performers during the 2013 Six Nations, leading Gatland to have one of his toughest selections problems for the number 15 shirt.
The Wales man though, who was named Six Nations Player of the Championship, believes it will force him to raise his game even further – a message that will send shivers down the spines of the Wallaby back-line.
– Leigh Halfpenny
Stuart had a fantastic Six Nations. So yes, it's going to be interesting, definitely. We're both going to be working hard now and looking to earn that jersey.
But it's also a chance to learn things from each other. The Lions is all about a squad, not just the starting team, and obviously there are going to be games where one of us will be playing and one of us won't. It's about supporting that player and making sure he's given the best preparation for that game - and I think that's important to be successful.
The quietly-spoken full back is hoping selection for the 2013 tour will be an all-round happier experience than four years ago, when he was forced to pull put of the 2009 tour to South Africa due to injury.
That disappointment was, he says, extremely hard to take, but four years on and with Grand Slam titles now amongst his achievements, he has put it all behind him.
With one game left in the regional season he is just hoping to keep himself injury-free and secure a place in Warren Gatland’s Test side.
I'm just trying to prepare as best as I can for the next couple of weeks so I can hit the ground running. For me, it's taking this opportunity now and working hard, for what every player will be - for that Test spot.