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Wales rugby: Leigh Halfpenny won't let autumn injury affect him

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: January 29, 2013

Leigh Halfpenny

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LEIGH Halfpenny is poised to return to the scene of the most frightening moment of his rugby career on Saturday, adamant he will not think twice about hurling himself in the line of fire should the occasion demand against Ireland.

Nine weeks ago at the Millennium Stadium, the Gorseinon product finished Wales's game against Australia on a stretcher after making a recklessly brave attempt to stop the Wallabies' match-winning try, scored by Kurtley Beale.

Halfpenny was immediately ferried off to hospital for scans on a neck injury. After six weeks out he resumed playing for the Blues and he is set to feature for Wales in the Six Nations opener against Ireland in four days' time.

But the memories are still fresh of the tackle on Dave Dennis and the aftermath.

"It was pretty worrying at the time," said Halfpenny.

"I had a dead arm for half-an-hour and I was not sure what sort of damage had been done, so the scans were good news because they showed no nerves had been damaged.

"I was conscious the whole time, but not sure what had happened. I was aware of a numbness in my arm and it was frightening.

"The medical staff were superb and it looked worse than it turned out to be. The doctors and nurses at the hospital were brilliant. I am a bit claustrophobic and they calmed me down before the MRI scan.

"I had a few weeks off and missed games I wanted to play in, but I have played a few games this month and it has been good.

"I have to learn to stop tackling with my head! I tried to protect my left shoulder and ended up making it worse. I have not thought about it in the games I have played since, just throwing myself into it."

Meanwhile, Shaun Edwards has insisted that any personal disappointment at missing out on this year's British Lions tour will be put aside as he looks to help Wales to another Six Nations title.

Wales defence coach Edwards was a surprise omission from Warren Gatland's Lions coaching staff for this summer's three-Test Australia tour.

"Obviously, everyone wants to go on a Lions tour, as a player and as a coach," Edwards said.

"But the decision has been made. Gats has made his decision, and obviously I am abiding by it. I am not going to forget how much Warren Gatland has done for me over the last 10 years. Most of the things I have achieved in coaching have been through him and his help. He has been a great mentor for me, and hopefully he will continue to be that in the future. He has made a decision which went against me, but there is no way my loyalty will be questioned.

"I couldn't be more determined. I had a break over the Christmas period, I went on holiday, and I am very much focused on trying to defend our (Six Nations) championship."

Mark Orders

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