They maybe rivals for the same position in the Wales team, but that hasn’t stopped Leigh Halfpenny showering Liam Williams with praise for his Six Nations performances.
Halfpenny missed out on the entirety of his country’s famous Grand Slam triumph with concussion after suffering a knock in a challenge by Australian centre Samu Kerevi during the autumn.
But in his absence at full-back, Williams moved from the wing to take the No.15 jersey and played a key role in the clean sweep as he was nominated for Player of the Championship.
And while Halfpenny is aware he faces a tough test to win back his place ahead of the Rugby World Cup in Japan, he believes the competition for places is only a good thing.
Amazing day yesterday seeing so many talented players. Looking forward to seeing Noah from Llandaff North in Japan to lead Wales out as a @landroverrugby mascot. Truly a once in a lifetime experience! 🏴👊🏼🏉 pic.twitter.com/4XMSylSj4n
— George North (@George_North) March 31, 2019
“I thought he was outstanding, he had a fantastic campaign and I’m good mates with him so I was delighted for him,” said Halfpenny, speaking at a Land Rover event where three youngsters were chosen to fly to Japan and be Land Rover mascots during Rugby World Cup 2019.
“Obviously as competitors you want to be playing as well but we have a fantastic relationship and we help each other prepare and it’s fantastic to have that competition for places.
“As a squad, we’ve got that across the park, players fighting for positions and that improves everyone as a whole, that improves the squad as a whole.
“Everyone is working hard to fight for those spots. We’ve got that competition in the squad and it is great for us at the moment – a perfect position to be in ahead of the World Cup.
“I think as players, as competitors we want to do our best and go out there and perform. A lot of hard work goes into that, as a Wales squad we work extremely hard.”
Warren Gatland’s side enjoyed a perfect campaign as they clinched the Grand Slam crown and Halfpenny was delighted to be in the camp as they made more history against Ireland.
The champions extended their record-breaking winning Test run to 14 games in the process, while Gatland became the first coach in Championship history to win three Slams.
Wales now go into the Ruby World Cup in Japan as one of the favourites, but Halfpenny insists his focus is on finishing the season strongly with Scarlets – with the rest taking care of itself.
An inspiring day at Farleigh house for the Land Rover Rugby Tour. Congratulations to @MarrRugby, @RWBassetRFC, & @LNRFC winners who were picked to be @rugbyworldcup mascots later this year #RWC2019 pic.twitter.com/Tl20ql8her
— Land Rover Rugby (@LandRoverRugby) March 30, 2019
“It was absolutely fantastic to be part of the squad and what the boys went on to achieve by going on and winning the Grand Slam was outstanding, it was incredible,” said Halfpenny.
“It was a great feeling in camp with the boys working extremely hard but I had fun along the way and it is a really tight group we’ve got, it’s an exciting squad as well.
“For us the focus goes on the World Cup now and keeping our heads down and working hard, preparing for a massive tournament at the end of the season.
“My focus is with the Scarlets now and the domestic competition, we’re fighting for a play-off spot and we’ve got three huge games coming up which we have to win to give ourselves a chance.
“That’s what we want to achieve and I’m really focused on helping the Scarlets to try and achieve that play-off spot – if we can do that then we can think about going on to win it.
“But the focus is just on winning these next three games, Edinburgh at home next weekend is a huge game for us, and we want to prepare well as a squad for that.
“You have to focus on playing well for your region and if you do that then hopefully it will be fantastic to get a spot on that plane to Japan, but you have to be playing well for your region.”
Halfpenny is a Land Rover ambassador. To be in with a chance to be a Land Rover mascot at RWC2019 visit www.premiershiprugby.com/landrovercompetition
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