Saturday 17 March 2018

Leigh Halfpenny signs national dual contract and commits future to Welsh Rugby and the Scarlets Sportsdesk

Wales full-back Leigh Halfpenny has committed his future to Welsh Rugby by signing a three-year national dual contract with the WRU and reigning PRO 12 champions the Scarlets.

The 28-year-old returns to Wales after a three-year spell with French giants Toulon, where he scored 14 points in the 2015 European Rugby Champions Cup Final to help Toulon to their third consecutive Champions Cup win.

Commenting on his return to Welsh Rugby, Halfpenny said: "I’m delighted to be coming back to play in Wales. I would like to thank the Scarlets and the WRU for giving me the opportunity to sign a National Dual Contract and can't wait to get started.”

Halfpenny will most likely serve as a direct replacement for Wales and British & Irish Lions teammate Liam Williams at the Scarlets, after Williams turned down a national dual contract from the WRU last year to take up a two-year deal with Champions Cup champions Saracens.

Wayne Pivac, who guided the Scarlets to a Guinness Pro12 final win over Munster last season, said that Halfpenny will be a valuable addidtion to the defending champions, especially when accounting for the losses of Williams and Canadian international DTH van der Merwe to Newcastle.

“Leigh joining is great news for the club, the supporters, the team and the region as a whole,” said Pivac.

“With the experience of Liam [Williams] and DTH [van der Merwe] moving on at the end of last season we’ve added some new players to the squad, some exciting young talent, and a guy like Leigh brings a lot of experience to the squad that he will share with those young players.

“It has worked out really well and we look forward to welcoming Leigh and he’s really excited to be joining the Scarlets because of the way we play the game.”

Wales coach Warren Gatland also welcomed Halfpenny's return to Welsh Rugby and said that the national dual contracts play an important part in Welsh Rugby's ability to ensure that the top players in Wales are playing their club rugby within the country.

“It is great news for Welsh rugby that Leigh Halfpenny is returning to play his rugby in Wales,” said Gatland. “The NDC system helps us to bring these players back and I look forward to seeing him play for the Scarlets.”

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