Leigh Halfpenny: Toulon hope Wales full-back will extend stay

By Chris JonesBBC Radio 5 live rugby reporter
Leigh Halfpenny
Leigh Halfpenny has scored 508 points in 62 Tests

Toulon head coach Diego Dominguez says he is confident Wales and Lions full-back Leigh Halfpenny will stay at the club next year.

Halfpenny has been at Toulon since 2014 but is out of contract in the summer.

And while the 27-year-old may opt to return home to Wales, Dominguez is adamant he should stay in France if he is to keep developing his game.

"We speak very often with him about [his future], and I am confident he will stay," Dominguez said.

"I think for him it will be the best decision to be outside [Wales], to challenge the best every week.

"I respect him as a person so I have told him this, not as a coach, but as personal advice."

Halfpenny joined Toulon from Cardiff Blues from the 2014-15 campaign and was a European Champions Cup winner at the end of his first season with the club.

Under the terms of the Welsh Rugby Union's senior player selection policy, Halfpenny will have to rely on a wildcard pick if he is to play for the national side.

Leigh Halfpenny
Leigh Halfpenny missed the 2015 Rugby World Cup after suffering a serious knee injury

Interim head coach Rob Howley hopes the ruling will encourage those based overseas to return to a region.

It is understood Halfpenny remains open-minded about his future, and is concentrating on reaching peak form and fitness after missing the bulk of last season with a serious knee injury.

However Dominguez, the former Italy fly-half, believes the player will soon be back to his best.

"It is never simple to come back but Leigh is coming back very well. He is very professional. I have no doubt he will come back 100% as he was before the injury," Dominguez told BBC Radio 5 live.

"He is happy at the club, he is having a good time. This year he is much more open, he is making new friends in France, speaking French.

"He hasn't made the decision yet, but I will be very happy if he stays and the club will be very happy if he stays."

Halfpenny confirmed in September he will be available for the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand next summer.

He said Toulon will allow him to miss the Top 14 finals to join up with the Lions should he be selected.