Leigh Halfpenny: Wales and Toulon back to decide on future within month

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Wales fullback Leigh Halfpenny to decide future in 'next month or so'
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British and Irish Lions full-back Leigh Halfpenny will decide whether to stay with French club Toulon or return to Wales "in the next month or so".

The 27-year-old's contract, which gives him full release to play for Wales, expires in the summer.

If he stays in France, under terms of the Welsh Rugby Union's senior player selection policy, Halfpenny will rely on a wildcard pick to play for Wales.

"If selected, I didn't want to miss out on any training or matches," he said.

Speaking to BBC Wales Sport, he added: "Having that full release in the contract allows me to play for my club during club time and, if selected, for Wales, which I love doing. It's the best of both worlds.

"I signed the contract before the law was in place and I also negotiated full release for every training camp and every game."

Former Toulon head coach Diego Dominguez said earlier in October he was confident Halfpenny would stay with the former European champions.

The international availability of players based outside Wales has been a subject of much scrutiny in recent months.

The Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) announced its senior player selection policy (SPSP) in September, meaning only three players who play outside Wales can be picked per international campaign.

It was the first time the WRU had revealed its seven-man list, from which there could be three wildcard selections.

Wales coach Rob Howley chose Northampton wing George North, Harlequins centre Jamie Roberts and Bath number eight Taulupe Faletau as the three wildcards for the November internationals.

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

Rhys Priestland, Dominic Day, Nicky Thomas and Rhodri Williams were the players to miss out, though Thomas' move to Scarlets means the list has since been reduced to six.

Bath lock Luke Charteris is exempt from the rule and free for selection - as is Halfpenny because he signed his contract at Toulon before the rule came into action.

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.

He has been linked with a return to the Blues, as well as a move to English Premiership side Wasps, but the British and Irish Lion has yet to decide on his future.

"For the time being I haven't put much thought into it but I know that decision will be coming in the next month or so," Halfpenny added.

"At the moment, I'm in my last year of contract in Toulon and, for me, at this moment in time I'm just fully focused on being back playing, getting over that injury and not thinking about anything other than playing and putting in performances for Toulon and Wales."

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.

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