Toulon hope Halfpenny will stay in France

Halfpenny in action for Toulon against Brive in September 2016
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French Top 14 Rugby club Toulon are hoping that Wales and Lions fullback Leigh Halfpenny will remain in France next year.

Halfpenny joined Toulon in 2014 but he comes off contract in the summer of 2017 and the French Giants say they are confident he will stay on.

The twenty-seven-year-old could return home to play in Wales or play in England but head coach Diego Dominguez says that Halfpenny should stay in France to keep developing his game.

“We speak very often with him about (his future), and I am confident he will stay,” Dominguez told the BBC.

“I think for him it will be the best decision to be outside (Wales), to challenge the best every week.

“I respect him as a person so I have told him this, not as a coach, but as personal advice.”

Halfpenny missed the 2015 Rugby World Cup due to injury but now under the Welsh Rugby Union’s senior player selection policy he may have to rely on a wildcard pick if he is to play for Wales.

Interim Wales head coach Rob Howley says he hopes that the WRU’s ruling will motivate foreign based players to return home to play in Wales.

According to reports Halfpenny is open-minded about his future and is concentrating on returning to fitness and form having missed most of last season with a knee injury.

Former Italy flyhalf Dominguez says that Halfpenny will soon back to playing at his best.

“It is never simple to come back but Leigh is coming back very well. He is very professional. I have no doubt he will come back 100% as he was before the injury,” Dominguez told BBC Radio 5 live.

“He is happy at the club, he is having a good time. This year he is much more open, he is making new friends in France, speaking French.

“He hasn’t made the decision yet, but I will be very happy if he stays and the club will be very happy if he stays.”

Last month Halfpenny said that Toulon would permit him to miss the Top 14 finals to play for the British and Irish Lions on their tour of New Zealand if he is selected.

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