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Halfpenny's effort from halfway against France in the semi-final which died agonisingly inches short.

It was one of the best long range efforts in the whole tournament, as players struggled with the balls and New Zealand's windy conditions, but impressively Halfpenny made no excuses for the miss. It just brought more hard work, including Christmas Day as usual in his own bit of homage to Daley Thompson.

But still Halfpenny was seen as a long range kicker only for region and country, even though logic prescribed that he would find the long range efforts easier if he was taking all the kicks. When the Blues had Ceri Sweeney as their short range kicker in one game, it did seem strange from the stand, so did he get annoyed?

“I was not frustrated at all, Ceri had kicked in the game before and done very well, so there was no way you could come in and take over because he was kicking well, he is a fantastic kicker. I

just had to bide my time and wait for that opportunity which came against the Dragons this year,” he said.

“Now I am playing in the 15 jersey and kicking for my country, which has always been the schoolboy dream growing up. All the hard work when I was younger was driven to where I am now and that hard work never stops, you have to keep going to work your socks off.

“After the France game in the World Cup you do think 'why be a kicker' after something like that, but then the feeling after the Ireland game was just amazing – to win a game for your country having done a lot of hard work over years and years makes it worthwhile. You savour those moments.”

Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards is a notoriously hard man to please, but he had this to say about Halfpenny after his desperate tackle did enough to open up Dave Strettle to other defenders when it seemed the England wing would score at the end of the Twickenham clash – which could have denied Wales the Triple


“As a coach you try not to single out players, but I am sorry, I am going to have to single him out because I think he has been absolutely sensational,” Edwards revealed at one of the Wales press conferences.

“In all the games he has played exceptionally well, but that tackle just showed up Leigh Halfpenny's conscientious-ness in his roles and his jobs, he is a complete professional at the moment.

“Another example was when Owen Farrell chipped over the top he put a big hit in on him, then was involved in the next tackle and then ran quite a way to collect Farrell's next kick ahead which would have been a try otherwise. That shows what shape he is in and attention to detail.”

It was an attitude forged in the mud of Gorseinon rugby club – and it seems to be working pretty well.

issue20twothousand&twelve sportingwales

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