Lions 2013: Leigh Halfpenny eager for Lions return
Leigh Halfpenny is determined to make amends on the British and Irish Lions tour to Australia after injury cut short his involvement four years ago.
The Wales full-back, 24, was selected for the 2009 tour to South Africa.
Halfpenny joined up with the tour late because of a thigh problem but after only one match the injury recurred, putting an end to his Lions dreams.
"It was disappointing to pick up that injury, I was having the best time of my life," Halfpenny said.
"Being part of a Lions tour was just incredible and I'm just pleased to be on another one and hopefully this one will last a bit longer.
Lions fixture list
- Sat 1 June: Barbarians, Hong Kong
- Wed 5 June: Western Force, Perth
- Sat 8 June: Queensland Reds, Brisbane
- Wed 12 June: Combined New South Wales-Queensland Country, Newcastle
- Sat 15 June: New South Wales Waratahs, Sydney
- Tue 18 June: ACT Brumbies, Canberra
- Sat 22 June: First Test, Brisbane
- Tue 25 June: Melbourne Rebels, Melbourne
- Sat 29 June: Second Test, Melbourne
- Sat 6 July: Third Test, Sydney
"It's a huge honour to be putting the shirt on again and I'm really... excited to get started on things now."
Four years ago Halfpenny was selected as a wing and played his one Lions game, a 26-24 win over the Free State Cheetahs, there, although the versatile Cardiff Blue also provided cover at full-back.
Now he will tour having established himself as Wales' first-choice full-back and goal-kicker.
Halfpenny will contest the 15 shirt with Scotland's Stuart Hogg and Ireland's Rob Kearney, who played in all three Tests against the Springboks after coming off the bench to replace the injured Lee Byrne in the opening Test in Durban.
"The competition for the 15 jersey is huge - Stuart Hogg and Rob Kearney are both fantastic players," Halfpenny said.
"Competition brings the best out of players and that can only be good for us as players and for the Lions.
"With regards to the wing, I've played out there and I am happy to play there. I have said before I would rather play 15, but if I am required to do a job for the Lions on the wing I would be more than happy to do that.
"I would wear the number one jersey if it meant I could play for the Lions."
The 2013 squad begin with a warm-up game against the Barbarians in Hong Kong on 1 June, before travelling on to Australia for nine more games that include three Tests against the Wallabies.
Wales' 15-strong contingent in Lions coach Warren Gatland's 37-man squad are set to dominate the opener against the Baa-Baas, as Ireland and England still have players involved in the Pro12 and Premiership play-offs.
"That will be the main focus in the camp now, getting ready for that first game and if we get the nod then fantastic," Halfpenny added.
"I'm really looking forward to the training camp and getting started with the game against the Barbarians.
"We're all here to be part of the Test series and hopefully make sure that the Lions are successful in Australia."