Habana concerned about Halfpenny threat

Newly promoted Wales winger Leigh Halfpenny will soon be studying video footage from last year’s world cup match between South Africa and the USA for confirmation that Bok winger Bryan Habana can be beaten.

Nineteen-year-old Cardiff Blues winger Halfpenny was selected for his Wales debut against South Africa on Tuesday after Mark Jones had not recovered from a knee injury.

Halfpenny will take heart from watching re-runs of the moment when Habana was embarrassed by Takudzwa Ngwenya as he left the South African cold and then stumbling to the ground as he could not match his pace.

“‘I did watch that game and saw the U.S.A. guy going around him,” he told the Mail on Sunday.

“I think I’ll be watching that clip a few times and seeing how he did. If I could do that against him, it would be brilliant.”

Halfpenny is well aware of the challenge that he is up against, but believes that Habana will be the one feeling the strain, “He is a great player but I just have to enjoy the occasion and not worry too much about him,” he said.

“Hopefully I can get the better of him and do something special. The pressure is on him now, because a rookie has come in against him.”

Halfpenny really is a rookie. Just a few months go he was playing age-group rugby and coming to terms with what appeared to be a long wait for firstteam opportunities with the Blues.

Cardiff head coach Dai Young gave him a suprising opportunity for the Blues senior side and he took with both hands scoring a string of tries but most notably two in front of the Wales management in a Heineken Cup victory over Gloucester.

“During the Under-20 World Cup in the summer we were having a chat and I was saying that I was probably seventh in line to play for the Blues,” said Halfpenny.

“But all of a sudden Dai gave me the chance to wear the jersey, which gave me a lot of confidence.”

“Just to get into the senior Wales squad was incredible and now to have the chance to start against the world champions is unbelievable.

“When my name was read out it was the best experience of my life. My parents were in tears on the phone when I told them.”

Habana however will be doing his own research n Halfpenny as he has been reading about his opponent in the papers already.

‘I have heard about him in the newspapers this week. I have heard he has had quite a good season over here.

“I will probably be doing a lot of analysis on him leading into the Test match.”

Gatland has given Halfpenny a fantastic vote of confidence comparing him to Welsh legend Shane Williams.

“He’s a bit like Shane Williams – it’s the first 15 or 20 metres when the pace really kicks in. He is a skilful player and he can kick, too.

“The great thing about Leigh is that he’s a winger who has been scoring tries. He should come into the game with no fear and with confidence, knowing that he has been playing well.” said Gatland.



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