'Gatland's Law won't affect Leigh Halfpenny' says Lee Byrne

Leigh Halfpenny
Leigh Halfpenny made his senior Wales debut as a 19-year-old against South Africa in November 2008

Leigh Halfpenny's place in the Wales squad will not be under threat if he turns down a move to a Welsh region, says former team-mate Lee Byrne.

Halfpenny's Toulon deal expires next summer and Cardiff Blues and English side Wasps have been linked with him.

Ex-Wales full-back Byrne does not think playing for English clubs would jeopardise Halfpenny or George North's international careers.

"They are both first choices when they are fit and playing," he said.

"I can't see the so-called Gatland's Law introduced for them two."

Under 'Gatland's Law' - named after Wales boss Warren Gatland - Wales-based players are expected to be favoured for Test selection over those who choose to play elsewhere - although Gatland can make exceptions.

Lee Byrne and Leigh Halfpenny
Halfpenny (right) succeeded Lee Byrne (left) as Wales' first choice full-back

The policy was introduced in August 2014 as part of a £60m, six-year deal between the Welsh Rugby Union and Wales' four professional regions.

As he was already playing abroad when it was first introduced it did not apply to Halfpenny then.

Gatland blocked Wales forward Taulupe Faletau's proposed move from Newport Gwent Dragons to Bath in October.

Wales centre Jonathan Davies will return to Scarlets from Clermont Auvergne on a dual-contract for the 2016-17 season but winger North has signed a new deal with Northampton Saints.

Full-back Halfpenny's contract with Toulon runs out next summer with Wasps and former side Cardiff Blues reportedly interested while Scarlets have said they would be keen to take the player back to Wales.

"It's just whether the regions can afford to get him back," says Byrne, who played in France for Clermont Auvergne.

"Obviously he's in Toulon now and winning trophies so it will be interesting if he comes back."