Toulon president confirms pursuit of Leigh Halfpenny

Last Updated: 14/12/13 12:29pm

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Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal has confirmed he wants to sign British & Irish Lions hero Leigh Halfpenny.

Boudjellal revealed on Friday that he has ended his pursuit of Lions skipper Sam Warburton, citing the player's wages as the problem.

But he still wants to capture Halfpenny, the Cardiff Blues and Wales full-back whose kicking was key to the Lions in their series victory in Australia last summer.

Speaking to French newspaper La Provence, Boudjellal said of Warburton: "We couldn't find an agreement on the salary expectations. The subject is closed.

"On the other hand, on Leigh Halfpenny, I don't have the same answer. He's a player we're looking at."

Halfpenny was also voted Player of the Tournament in the 2013 Six Nations and was shortlisted for the International Rugby Board's Player of the Year award.

Meanwhile, Boudjellal admits he is dreading the day Jonny Wilkinson retires.

England's 2003 World Cup hero is still deciding whether to play on next year, and Boudjellal says he will have to sign two players to replace Wilkinson, so important is he to Toulon.

"If his body says stop, Jonny will finish his career at the end of this season," he said.

"I think right now, he doesn't know. In any case, he's never told me: 'I want to finish my career'. Everything depends on the next six months.

"Having to one day replace Jonny Wilkinson is the kind of thing that falls on you once in 100 years.

"We've made choices based on managing the game and reliability as a kicker because we will have to replace two players in one: a playmaker and a kicker with a 90 percent success rate like Jonny has.

"To find all that in one player is difficult, so we'll have to find it in two."

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