Wales v New Zealand: Leigh Halfpenny relieved to return

Leigh Halfpenny
Wales' Leigh Halfpenny leaves the field after suffering concussion against Australia on 8 November
Autumn internationals: Wales v New Zealand
Venue: Millennium Stadium Date: Sat 22 November Kick-off: 17:30 GMT
Coverage: Watch live on BBC Two, BBC Two HD, online, mobiles and BBC Sport app from 16:55 GMT; commentary on BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Radio Wales & Radio Cymru; text commentary on BBC Sport website & mobiles

Wales full-back Leigh Halfpenny says he is glad to have his place back for Saturday's game against New Zealand.

The British and Irish Lion missed the narrow win over Fiji after suffering concussion during the defeat to Australia two weeks ago.

Halfpenny, 25, starts at full-back against the All Blacks despite Scarlets' 15, Liam Williams, being named man-of-the-match against Fiji.

"Every time that team is read out you have nerves in the belly," he said.

"You never take your place for granted and Liam Williams had a fantastic game against Fiji.

"We're really good friends, so it's great to see him play as well as he did.

Scrum V takes a look ahead to the Test match between Wales and New Zealand at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.

"It's great that there is that competition for places and it can only be a good thing for Welsh rugby."

Flanker Richie McCaw leads New Zealand for the 100th time on Saturday, while star fly-half Dan Carter misses out as coach Steve Hansen feels he is "rusty" after recovering from injury.

Halfpenny's opposite number against New Zealand will be Ben Smith after Hansen left Israel Dagg out of the All Blacks squad.

Crusaders full-back Dagg started in the victory against England two weeks ago, but was replaced by Smith for the 24-16 win over Scotland.

Wales are looking for a first win against the All Blacks since 1953 and Halfpenny says New Zealand are a "quality outfit" whoever they pick.

"We're going to have to be on top of our game to be in with a shout of winning," said the Toulon back.

"You can't afford to have a lapse of concentration for one second against the All Blacks. That's a huge thing for us, playing for the full 80 minutes.

"There's been some great victories during my career in a Welsh shirt, but a win against the All Blacks would certainly be at the top of them."

Wales' autumn Tests
Saturday, 8 November: Wales 28-33 Australia
Saturday, 15 November: Wales 17-13 Fiji
Saturday, 22 November: v New Zealand (17:30 GMT)
Saturday, 29 November: v South Africa (14:30 GMT)
All games to be played at Millennium Stadium, Cardiff

Former Wales fly-half Jonathan Davies told BBC's Scrum V programme last weekend that he would prefer Liam Williams to play at full-back, with Halfpenny on the wing.

"If that was the call I'd be more than happy, but for me my preferred position is 15," said Halfpenny.

"[But] if there's an opportunity to pull on that Welsh jersey I'd play in the front row."

Scotland ran New Zealand close last weekend and could have taken the lead with ten minutes remaining, but Greig Laidlaw missed his penalty.

Halfpenny says it would be "a huge privilege" to have the opportunity to take a winning kick against the All Blacks on Saturday.

"As a kicker those moments can arise but that's what the hard work is all about, the hours and hours of practice that go in. Moments like that are what you live for," he said.

"I've always dreamt of kicking for Wales since I was a kid so to be doing what I'm doing is a dream come true."


Wales: Leigh Halfpenny (Toulon), Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), Jonathan Davies (Clermont Auvergne), Jamie Roberts (Racing Metro), George North (Northampton Saints), Dan Biggar (Ospreys), Rhys Webb (Ospreys); Paul James (Bath), Richard Hibbard (Gloucester), Samson Lee (Scarlets), Jake Ball (Scarlets), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Dan Lydiate (unattached), Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues, capt), Taulupe Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).

Replacements: Scott Baldwin (Ospreys), Nicky Smith (Ospreys), Rhodri Jones (Scarlets), Luke Charteris (Racing Metro), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Mike Phillips (Racing Metro), James Hook (Gloucester), Liam Williams (Scarlets).

New Zealand: Ben Smith; Charles Piutau, Conrad Smith, Sonny Bill Williams, Julian Savea; Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith; Wyatt Crockett, Dane Coles, Owen Franks, Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (capt), Jerome Kaino.

Replacements: Keven Mealamu, Joe Moody, Charlie Faumuina, Patrick Tuipulotu, Liam Messam, TJ Perenara, Colin Slade, Ryan Crotty.

Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)

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