Leigh Halfpenny signs Wales and Scarlets dual contract
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 03/08/17 8:28pm
Leigh Halfpenny has handed Wales a significant boost by signing a three-year deal to join the Scarlets.
The British and Irish Lions full-back will return to Wales after three years in France with Toulon, having signed a national dual contract with the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) and the Scarlets.
Halfpenny's future had been left in limbo after Toulon opted not to offer the former Cardiff Blues star a new deal, but now his return to Welsh soil has relieved a potential headache for national boss Warren Gatland.
"It is great news for Welsh rugby that Leigh Halfpenny is returning to play his rugby in Wales," said Gatland.
"The NDC (national dual contract) system helps us to bring these players back and I look forward to seeing him play for the Scarlets."
Halfpenny made his name at Cardiff in a six-year stint between 2008 and 2014, before switching to Top 14 powerhouses Toulon.
Now the 71-cap Wales star has admitted his pride at securing his future and his return to home soil.
"I'm delighted to be coming back to play in Wales," said Halfpenny.
"I would like to thank the Scarlets and the WRU for giving me the opportunity to sign a national dual contract and can't wait to get started."
Chief executive Martyn Phillips believes Halfpenny's signature is a significant shot in the arm for the WRU's dual contract system.
"I'm delighted that we are able to announce Leigh's return to Wales," said Phillips.
"His signature rubber stamps our commitment to the game here in Wales by having our best players playing their rugby on home soil which is vital to the future health of our game.
"We have made no secret of that and the importance both on and off the field at regional and national level in Welsh players playing their rugby in Wales."
Scarlets boss Wayne Pivac believes Halfpenny's capture will help offset the loss of Wales flyer Liam Williams, who has left the PRO12 champions for Saracens.
"Leigh joining is great news for the club, the supporters, the team and the region as a whole," said Pivac.
"With the experience of Liam (Williams) and DTH (van der Merwe) moving on at the end of last season we've added some new players to the squad, some exciting young talent, and a guy like Leigh brings a lot of experience to the squad that he will share with those young players.
"It has worked out really well and we look forward to welcoming Leigh and he's really excited to be joining the Scarlets because of the way we play the game."