Sports Personality contender: Leigh Halfpenny - rugby union

Sports Personality: Halfpenny says his dreams came true in 2013

During the countdown to the 60th BBC Sports Personality of the Year award on Sunday, 15 December, we will be looking at each of the 10 shortlisted contenders.

Leigh Halfpenny played a starring role in the British and Irish Lions' triumphant tour of Australia, after helping Wales to retain the Six Nations title in 2013.

The 24-year-old Cardiff Blues player was named player of the tournament, before heading down under to help the Lions end a 16-year wait for a series win.

Halfpenny was named man of the match in July's deciding game in Sydney. He landed eight from nine kicks to finish with 21 points, and help guide his side to a 41-16 victory.

"It's just been an incredible year, what I always dreamed of as a kid but never expected," Halfpenny told BBC Sport.

"From winning a Six Nations with Wales to winning a Lions series out in Australia, it's just been phenomenal."

Halfpenny's haul in the third Test took him past Neil Jenkins's previous series record, and he was voted man of the series.

Wales assistant coach Rob Howley has praised Halfpenny's contribution to the sport.

"Leigh is fearless, courageous and is one of the best full backs in world rugby. He is a model professional in every facet of the game," Howley said.

Sports Personality: Vote for Halfpenny

"He constantly strives for perfection in his preparation and performance and sets high standards."

Halfpenny made his debut for Wales on the wing against South Africa in Cardiff as a 19-year-old in 2008, kicking a penalty in a 20-15 defeat.

He went on to score 74 points for Wales during the Six Nations, and was rock-solid in defence before being named as one of 15 Welshmen in the British and Irish Lions squad for the summer tour of Australia.

The full-back made his Lions Test debut in Brisbane and contributed 13 points in a 23-21 defeat of Australia.

"To be part of a Lions-winning Test team is just incredible but I'm still not sure it has actually sunk in what we've achieved. Speaking to past players they say the same and I don't think it will sink in for a few years, or even until I finish playing," he added.

He was also named on a five-man shortlist for the IRB World Player of the Year, the only Briton to be nominated for the award, which New Zealand's Kieran Read won this month.