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Wales great Halfpenny to retire from Test rugby

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Wales great Halfpenny to retire from Test rugby

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Leigh Halfpenny has announced he will retire from international rugby.

The 34-year-old back will make Wales’ game against the Barbarians on 4 November his final Test, but will continue to play club rugby.

Halfpenny has won 101 caps for Wales, scoring 801 points, and played four Tests for the British and Irish Lions.

“It’s with a heavy heart that I’ve decided that it’s time for me to step away from international rugby,” Halfpenny said.

“The decision hasn’t been easy, but the time feels right for me now and I look forward to running out one last time against the Barbarians next week at home.

“It’s been such a huge honour and privilege to put on the Welsh jersey and represent my country over the past 15 years.”

Halfpenny, primarily a full-back or wing, made his debut aged 19 in the first game of the autumn series against South Africa in November 2008.

His four Test appearances for the Lions were won across the 2013 and 2017 tours, although he was also selected in 2009 before injury cut short his involvement.

Halfpenny was named player of the series in 2013, helping the tourists to a 2-1 series victory in Australia from full-back.

He bettered Neil Jenkins’ Lions record for the most points in a Test series with 49 and also broke the record for the most points in a Lions Test as he scored 21 in the third and final match.

His metronomic kicking places Halfpenny third on the all-time list of men’s points scorers for Wales with 801, behind Neil Jenkins (1,049) and Stephen Jones (917).

“It was a dream as a kid growing up playing for Gorseinon to one day play for Wales and I’ve made the most incredible memories,” Halfpenny added.

“There have been ups and downs, but I will look back on my international career with immense pride.

“There’s no better feeling running out to a full Principality Stadium wearing the Welsh jersey and singing the national anthem.

“I’m going to miss it, but I will be forever grateful for the opportunities I’ve had and to every single person who has helped me along the way.

“It’s been unbelievable to play with such special people over the years and I will cherish the friendships I’ve made.”

Halfpenny started playing rugby for Gorseinon, where his ex-RAF grandfather Malcolm took him from junior school for kicking practice, and he was originally a member of the Ospreys academy before he signed for Cardiff Blues ahead of the 2007-08 season – winning the 2009 Anglo-Welsh Cup and 2010 European Challenge Cup with the capital side.

He signed for Toulon in 2014, winning the 2015 European Champions Cup with the French side before returning to Wales with Scarlets in 2017.

This year’s World Cup saw Halfpenny play at his third global tournament, where Wales reached the quarter-finals, having previously been selected in the 2011 and 2019 tournaments. Injury saw him ruled out of the 2015 World Cup.

“I’m excited about this group of players coming through for Wales and what they can achieve in the future I’m looking forward to supporting the boys from the stands,” he said.

“I’d like to say a huge thank you to all of the players, coaches and staff I’ve been fortunate to work alongside; to my family and friends who have been with me through all the ups and downs and to all the fans who have supported me throughout.

“To Jess and the girls, your support and love has meant everything and to be able to have Lily and Nora watching me play for Wales has been one of my proudest moments.

“Whilst I’ll be moving on from the international game, I’m excited about the next chapter as a player in this game which has given me so much, and look forward to sharing details on my club future soon.”

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