WALES FULLBACK LEIGH Halfpenny has this afternoon been named the 6 Nations player of the tournament.
The Cardiff Blues star racked up 74 points, mostly with the boot, as Wales bounced back from an opening day defeat to claim the championship in psectacular style by trouncing England at the Millennium Stadium.
Halfpenny received 40% of over 80,000 public votes which helps decide the outcome along with ‘match statistics’ according to the Six Nations site.
His performances have left most to conclude that he will be first-choice full-back and place-kicker for Warren Gatland when the British and Irish Lions tour Australia this summer.
Ireland had two players on the 15-man short-list, but neither Brian O’Driscoll nor Conor Murray made the top three. Italy blind-side Alessandro Zanni came in second behind the Welsh talisman, with another fullback, Scotland’s Stuart Hogg taking third.
“It’s the icing on the cake of an exceptional year for Wales,” Halfpenny said in a statement. “It is a privilege to be part of such an exceptional group of people. For my name to be added to the list of players who have won this award in the past is incredible and extremely humbling.”
It’s the seventh time the Six Nations have named a player of the championship. Brian O’Driscoll claimed the prize three times since 2006 while Halfpenny is the third Welsh player to win the award after Shane Williams in 2008 and, last year’s winner, Dan Lydiate who was injured for Wales’s successful title defence.
Of course, in Ireland, we’ll remember Halfpenny for the massive try-saving hit he took from Craig Gilroy,
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It’s the Measure of the man, though, that 60 seconds later he was scoring in the other corner.
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