Leigh Halfpenny: Cardiff Blues boss hopeful full-back will stay

Blues boss Phil Davies is confident Leigh Halfpenny will stay in Wales despite reports in France suggesting he has signed for Toulon.

The Wales full-back's Blues contract expires at the end of this season.

But Davies is optimistic Halfpenny could remain a Blues player beyond the current campaign.

"I'll be surprised if he has [signed for Toulon]. He is still our player obviously and he's not gone anywhere as yet," said the director of rugby.

"We are still trying to work on keeping all our best players."

Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal has also cast doubt on his club's pursuit of Halfpenny despite originally claiming they had agreed terms.

Boudjellal is quoted as telling a French radio station Toulon are concerned about the issue of his salary in a pre-World Cup year when availability might be an issue because of international commitments.

Toulon have extended the contract of English full-back Delon Armitage and could have goalkicker Jonny Wilkinson available for one more year.

Wales players in "exile"

Lee Byrne - Clermont Auvergne

Luke Charteris - Perpignan

James Hook - Perpignan

Dan Lydiate - Racing Metro

Jamie Roberts - Racing Metro

Mike Phillips - Racing Metro

George North - Northampton

Paul James - Bath

Craig Mitchell - Exeter

Jon Davies - Clermont (from 2014)

Ian Evans - Toulon (from 2014)

After being named Lions player of the series in Australia in the summer and being shortlisted as International Rugby Board player of the year, Halfpenny's stock has risen in recent months.

He was also named 2013 Six Nations player of the tournament and has scored 344 points for Wales in 48 appearances since his debut in 2008.

Halfpenny's Wales and Blues team-mate Sam Warburton has also been linked with a move to France but has also told of his ultimate desire to remain in Wales.

Warburton does want a deal to stay in Wales but had issued a deadline in December for the Welsh Rugby Union and the Blues to sort out his contract.

"Sam has openly voiced his desire to stay, which is fantastic," added Davies.

"There is a huge amount of work going on to try to keep our best players and grow the squad."

Davies is also hopeful the row between the WRU and the four regions can be sorted out.

"There's a big responsibility for everybody over the next four to five months because there are a lot of careers [and] livelihoods at stake.

"I'm hoping in a short space of time we will sort it out for the benefit of all."