Leigh Halfpenny: Wales selection ‘not a factor’ in club future

Bryan Habana comforts Leigh Halfpenny
Bryan Habana comforts Leigh Halfpenny after Toulon lose at Parc y Scarlets

Leigh Halfpenny will not return to Wales on the basis of the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) selection criteria for Test players, says Toulon boss Mike Ford.

Cardiff Blues have offered the full-back a deal to return to the region.

If Halfpenny decides not to do so, he may have to rely on being chosen as a wildcard under the WRU's senior player selection policy.

"I've spoken to Leigh. He wants to not make the wildcard his decision," said ex-Bath coach Ford.

"What he wants to do is go to an environment where he thinks he can get better.

"If that environment's Toulon where we can make him a better player, then that's all he needs to worry about because Wales will pick him, wildcard or not.

"So that's the advice I've given him: go to an environment where he's going to get better every day."

Ford signed Rhys Priestland for Bath and the former Scarlet was left out of Wales' squad for their November 2016 Tests under the WRU rules that are intended to encourage leading players to remain in, or return to, Wales.

Halfpenny's current contract gives him full release to play for Wales, but it expires at the end of 2016-17.

Ford watched Halfpenny miss the late penalty shot that would have given Toulon victory in the European Champions Cup at Scarlets.

The father of England fly-half George Ford has said he expects Halfpenny to make a decision over his future over the festive period.

"He's not playing our next game," said Mike Ford.

"He's got holiday so he's going to come back in after Christmas and we expect some sort of decision then, I think."

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