Toulon hunting Halfpenny

Sat, 14 Dec 2013 08:20
Large leighhalfpennywales

Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal says he is trying to sign Wales fullback Leigh Halfpenny but has ruled out a move for Sam Warburton.

Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal says he is trying to sign Wales fullback Leigh Halfpenny but has ruled out a move for Sam Warburton.

Speaking to the La Provence newspaper, which covers the south of France, in an interview published on Friday, Boudjellal said British and Irish Lions and Wales captain Warburton had priced himself out of a potential move.

But the star of the Lions June tour to Australia may yet be recruited.

"We couldn't find an agreement on the salary expectations. The subject is closed," said Boudjellal about Cardiff Blues flanker Warburton, 25.

"On the other hand, on Leigh Halfpenny, I don't have the same answer. He's a player we're looking at."

Halfpenny, 24, who also plays for the Blues, was voted player of the series in the Lions successful tour to Australia, breaking the Lions test points record and the record for points in a single test.

He was also voted player of the tournament in the 2013 Six Nations and was shortlisted for the International Rugby Board's player of the year award.

Should he join Toulon - fellow French Top 14 giants Clermont are also interested in recruiting him - he would join a growing exodus of Welsh players in France.

Mike Phillips, Jamie Roberts and Dan Lydiate all play at Racing-Metro while James Hook and Luke Charteris are at Perpignan.

Lee Byrne is at Clermont, who have signed Jonathan Davies for next season, while Toulon will have Ian Evans on their books in the next campaign.

France is not the only destination attracting Welsh players with George North at Northampton, Paul James at Bath and Craig Mitchell at Exeter.

Ospreys and Wales hooker Richard Hibbard looks set to move to Gloucester next season while Scarlets flyhalf Rhys Priestland and Blues lock Bradley Davies have reportedly agreed to join Wasps.

Other players not currently in favour with Wales but who previously represented their country such as Travis Knoyle (Gloucester), Martin Roberts and Gavin Henson (both Bath) also play in England.

Meanwhile, All Black  lock Ali Williams has signed a one-year contract extension with the European champions.

The 32-year-old, who has been capped 77 times by his country and won the World Cup with the All Blacks in 2011, has formed a formidable second row partnership on the south coast with South Africa's Bakkies Botha.

Interviewed on Thursday about his intentions, Williams had claimed he was loving life in France and was close to signing a new deal.

"It's almost done. I love it here," he said Thursday.

"It's totally different to what I knew in New Zealand. I'd never left my country. The people here are magical, I can feel there's a real connection and I want to stay."

AFP

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