Wales Coach Gatland Excited for Halfpenny’s Southern Hemisphere Move
In a surprising move, Wales head coach Warren Gatland has expressed his belief that Leigh Halfpenny’s upcoming move to the southern hemisphere will greatly benefit the talented rugby player. The 34-year-old, who recently announced his retirement from international rugby, is set to continue his club career and potentially join New Zealand’s Super Rugby champions.
Gatland shared his thoughts on Halfpenny’s future, stating “Hopefully he has got a big future ahead of him… It is an exciting challenge that he has been offered.” With the details of the deal yet to be officially confirmed, former Crusaders coach Scott Robertson praised Halfpenny as a suitable addition to his old team.
Nicknamed ‘Razor’, Robertson himself achieved success as both a back-row forward and coach. Under his leadership, the Crusaders secured seven Super Rugby titles since 2017. Now appointed as New Zealand head coach after this year’s World Cup defeat against South Africa in the final match under Ian Foster’s management.
Gatland did not explicitly mention the Crusaders but hinted at a potential player-coach opportunity for Halfpenny that could follow in the footsteps of well-respected kicking guru Neil Jenkins. Commenting on this possibility, Gatland said “I think with that sort of CV and experience, he will be brilliant at coaching.” “He spoke to me about where he was going and I just said how brilliant it would be for him in terms of what he wants to do next.”
The Welsh head coach also highlighted Halfpenny’s invaluable contributions to the national team. He praised his professionalism, work ethic, and unwavering dedication on and off the field. Gatland remarked “He’s been one of those people who have set incredible standards and is a great example for younger players coming through… He is not the biggest man in the world but he has always given 100% for that jersey.”
Halfpenny’s final appearance for Wales will take place at Principality Stadium against the Barbarians in an uncapped fixture this weekend. As Gatland reflects on their journey together, he feels privileged to have played a significant role throughout Halfpenny’s career, from awarding him his first cap in November 2008 to witnessing his last game representing Wales.