6 Nov 2023

Welsh veteran Halfpenny signs one-season Crusaders deal

7:31 am on 6 November 2023
Leigh Halfpenny of Wales at full time of their match against the Barbarians.

Leigh Halfpenny of Wales at full time of their match against the Barbarians. Photo: Photosport

Wales fullback Leigh Halfpenny has confimed he will play for "one of the best clubs in the world" after signing a one-season deal with the Crusaders.

The 34-year-old on Monday confirmed speculation he will join the 12-time Super Rugby champions this year, having announced his retirement from internatonal rugby two weeks ago.

Halfpenny ended his Wales career with 101 caps and nearly 200 first class matches for professional clubs across Europe.

His 801 points for his country make him the third-highest Welsh point scorer.

He said he had welcomed the approach from new Crusaders head coach Rob Penney, who has replaced the successful Scott Robertson.

"I've always watched Super Rugby and the Crusaders are the team I've always followed," Halfpenny said shortly after signing his one-year contract.

"I'm extremely grateful to have the opportunity to join one of the best clubs in the world and I can't wait to meet everyone.

"Rob Penney and his team couldn't have been any more welcoming and I feel hugely honoured to be joining them.

"I've always loved the time I've spent in New Zealand on tour. It's a passionate rugby nation and I've always been made to feel very much at home there. My family and I are very excited about the move."

Penney described Halfpenny's signing as "a massive coup for us".

"Leigh's a footballer with a huge amount of experience, charisma and skill," Penney said.

"We had our feelers out for a while, and Leigh was finishing up his time with Wales and still had a big desire to play at the highest level, so it's a great fit for us.

"Leigh adds even more maturity to our backline, while also bringing in some Northern Hemisphere perspective, so yeah, we're excited about what he'll bring into camp."

Halfpenny debuted for Wales in 2008 and played in the 2011, 2019 and 2023 Rugby World Cups - the Welsh team making the playoffs in all three tournaments Halfpenny attended.

He played four tests for the British & Irish Lions and most recently, 55 matches for the Llanelli-based Scarlets, one of four Welsh professional teams.

His final match for Wales came in Sunday morning's win over the Robertson-coach Barbarians in Cardiff on Sunday, where he landed five from five shots atgoal and received a rousing sendoff from the home crowd.