Halfpenny: Toulon the 'best decision'
January 25, 2014
Halfpenny insists he is still fully focused on his Wales careeer © Getty Images
Leigh Halfpenny believes he would have been foolish to pass up on the chance to join Toulon but has reaffirmed his commitment to the Welsh national team in the wake of his confirmed move to join the Top 14 club.
The deal, which will see Halfpenny join the European champions at the end of the season, is another worrying sign for the WRU as they struggle to keep home-grown stars in Wales. Though handed a boost by Alun-Wyn Jones' decision to stay with Ospreys, the loss of Halfpenny - man of the series in the British & Irish Lions tour - will be strongly felt.
Halfpenny will join a host of world-class talent in the south of France and he admits the opportunity to join the likes of Jonny Wilkinson at Toulon was just too good to turn down.
"Having taken time to consider every option in detail, I believe the decision to move to Toulon is the best decision for me and my continued development as a rugby player and as a person," Halfpenny said.
"I'm very excited about joining Toulon. They are an outstanding club, very ambitious, full of world-class players and are the current European Champions so I'm very proud to have been given the opportunity to be part of that.
"Having said that I'll be incredibly sad to say goodbye to everyone at the Cardiff Blues, the fans, the squad and the staff.
"I've been very fortunate to have spent the last seven years there with great players and people and will always be a club that remains close to my heart. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time there, made some lifelong friends. I can't thank them enough for giving me the opportunity and for their continued support."
In recent weeks there have been growing murmurings about the impact a move abroad will have on a player's international aspirations. But Halfpenny has insisted Toulon fully respect his desire to still be available for Wales selection.
"Toulon are fully supportive of my international desires and duties and I would like to thank them for this as it was an important factor in my decision," he said.
"As well as the rugby challenges, I'm looking forward to experiencing and embracing a new culture and learning a new language. However until then I'm completely focused on performing for the Cardiff Blues and Wales."
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