Leigh Halfpenny will stay at Toulon, says Sam Warburton

Leigh Halfpenny
Leigh Halfpenny was named man of the series on the British and Irish Lions' tour of Australia in 2013.

Wales captain Sam Warburton says he does not believe international team-mate Leigh Halfpenny's time at Toulon is coming to an end.

Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal says Halfpenny's ongoing injuries could lead to his departure without playing a game since arriving over the summer.

Former club Cardiff Blues and Ospreys are monitoring the situation but Warburton expects the back to stay put.

"I think it's a bit early to be writing off his career at Toulon yet," he said.

Warburton revealed he spoke to Halfpenny last week and believes the Wales and Lions full-back will make a full recovery.

"I know Leigh's been nursing a slight groin tweak," added Warburton. "I don't think it's too significant but I know groins are extremely complicated injuries to have.

"Jonathan Davies [the Wales and Clermornt Auvergne centre] has groin issues and they can be a real pain in the backside. I'm sure he'll be fine. It won't be anything dramatic, just a niggly injury.

"Being a goal-kicker he has to be extra cautious but Leigh is the best professional there is so I'm sure he'll come through it fine."

Halfpenny joined Heineken Cup winners Toulon from Cardiff Blues on a two-year deal in the summer.

Leigh Halfpenny
BornGorseinon, Swansea, 22 Dec 1988
Height1.78m (5ft 10in)
Weight85kg (13st 5lb)
PositionFull-back, wing
ClubsCardiff Blues, Toulon
International honours52 Wales caps (395 pts), 3 Lions caps (49 pts)

His agent is reportedly in Toulon trying to sort out the Wales and British and Irish Lions full-back's future.

The 25-year-old has not played since surgery on a dislocated shoulder he suffered during Wales' Six Nations defeat to England March and is now out with a groin injury.

Boudjellal told French newspaper Varmartin he felt Halfpenny might have been carrying that injury when he arrived at Toulon.

The Toulon president said: "We haven't excluded denouncing [terminating] his contract."

If that were to happened, it would raise the possibility of Halfpenny returning to Wales on a dual contract partly-funded by the Welsh Rugby Union.

Cardiff Blues chief executive Richard Holland said the region would be interested in the player he if became available "be that on a dual contract or a regional deal".

Warburton signed a central contract with the Welsh Rugby Union in January after failing to agree a new deal with the Blues, bucking the trend of internationals leaving Wales for clubs in England or France.

He said any club would be delighted to sign a player of Halfpenny's calibre if he became available but does not expect him to be made available despite Boudjellal's comments.

"To be honest, it would probably have been a shock to Leigh to see all that in the papers but it's hard to read into it at the moment to be honest," Warburton added.

Leigh Halfpenny and Sam Warburton
Halfpenny, left, has become one of rugby's best goal-kickers

"A lot of these stories come out of France quite regularly.

"It's all speculation at the moment but Leigh's a world-class player and any club would be delighted to have him.

"I hope things work out. Leigh knows what's best for him and his situation."

Rugby agent Derwyn Jones, the former Wales and Cardiff RFC lock, has questioned Boudjellal's threat to tear up Halfpenny's contract and believes the club president is looking for a reaction.

"What I don't understand really is his claim that he went over there with a groin injury," Jones told BBC Wales Sport.

"Any player that goes to France has to undergo a thorough medical before they sign.

"If Mourad is criticising anybody he seems to be criticising his own medical staff and not really Leigh because Leigh's clearly passed a medical.

"I think he's ranted and got it off his chest. What the repercussions are I don't know, maybe he's said it to get a reaction which I know he's done several times in the past.

"It will be interesting to see what happens over the next few days."

Wales assistant coach Rob Howley has also said he is disappointed by Boudjellal's comments but is pleased the likes of Cardiff Blues and Ospreys are interested in signing Halfpenny if he becomes available.

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