Monday 18 December 2017

Halfpenny hoping familiarity breeds some consent from French

Wales player Leigh Halfpenny lands an early penalty during the Autumn international match between Wales and South Africa
Wales player Leigh Halfpenny lands an early penalty during the Autumn international match between Wales and South Africa

WALES star Leigh Halfpenny might have moved his rugby life from Cardiff to the Cote d'Azur - but there remains plenty of common ground.

In one obvious sea-change, Halfpenny's training recovery routine these days often revolves around a dip in the Mediterranean on his way home. Such is the way of things in Toulon, the place where Halfpenny has contentedly embarked on a new sporting chapter this season with rugby union's reigning European champions.

Halfpenny has amassed nearly 450 points for Wales heading into tomorrow's clash in Paris against a France match-day 23 that includes five of his Toulon team-mates.

And the 26-year-old will relish what awaits at Stade de France as Wales look to keep alive their Six Nations title hopes.

"Toulon reminds me of Wales in terms of their passion for rugby," he said.

"The sport in Wales is huge like it is in Toulon. Both sets of fans are hugely passionate.

"Before the game in Toulon when you get off the bus you walk through a tunnel of fans into the changing room. It's incredible, and I have not seen anything like that at club level.

"It reminds me of travelling in on the bus for Wales outside the Millennium Stadium with the fans cheering you in. It gives you a huge buzz going into the changing room. We are going to have to be at our best to come away with what we are going there for, and that's a win."

WALES: L Halfpenny; G North, J Davies, J Roberts, L Williams; D Biggar, R Webb; G Jenkins, S Baldwin, S Lee, L Charteris, AW Jones, D Lydiate, S Warburton, T Faletau.

FRANCE: B Dulin; Y Huget, R Lamerat, W Fofana, S Guitoune; C Lopez, M Parra; E Ben Arous, G Guirado, R Slimani, R Taofifenua, Y Maestri, T Dusautoir, B Le Roux, D Chouly.

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