Toulon's Halfpenny available for 2017 Lions tour

Thu, 01 Sep 2016 14:55
Large leigh halfpenny toulon trophy 800

NEWS: Wales fullback Leigh Halfpenny confirmed on Thursday that French Top 14 side Toulon would release him to play in next year's British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand. 

It was unclear whether Halfpenny, 27, would be available for the June 3-July 8 trip, with part of the tour clashing with the end of the domestic French season.

But the Welshman said he will be granted permission to join up with the Lions if he is selected, having struck a deal with Toulon President Mourad Boudjellal.

"When we spoke about extending for this season, we came to an agreement where I have full release for both Wales and the Lions," said Halfpenny, who was named man of the series in the Lions' 2-1 win over Australia in 2013.

"If selected for the Lions at the end of the season I will miss the end of the season with Toulon. But I spoke with [coach] Diego [Dominguez] and with Mourad, and they said for them to have a player selected for the Lions would be a huge honour for the club."

Halfpenny missed almost all of last season after injuring his knee just before the World Cup, returning from a nine-month lay-off to help Toulon reach the Top 14 Final where they were beaten by Dan Carter and Racing 92.

However, the former Cardiff Blues star admitted his primary concern was performing well for Toulon and not a return to international duty.

"The Lions is a long way away and you have to be playing at your best for both club and country to be selected on that tour," he said.

"Just coming back from a big injury, my complete focus is on playing as well as I can for Toulon." 

Agence France-Presse

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