Leigh Halfpenny 'failed' before Test success - Josh Lewsey

Leigh Halfpenny
Leigh Halfpenny played in all three 2013 Lions Tests in Australia

England World Cup winner Josh Lewsey says "failing" early in his career has helped Leigh Halfpenny succeed.

Lewsey says Halfpenny, 26, was rejected at academy level, but bounced back.

Toulon's Halfpenny was in Ospreys' academy and played for Neath and Cardiff RFC before joining Cardiff Blues in 2008.

"Quite often the guys that truly, truly succeed at the top are the ones sometimes that have gone without and failed a few times," said Lewsey.

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Halfpenny made his Wales debut against South Africa in 2008 and toured with the British and Irish Lions in 2009 and 2013.

He has won 60 Wales caps and was part of the 2012 Grand Slam and 2013 Six Nations title-winning sides.

Lewsey, himself a former international wing and full-back, says he "really, really admires" the player who moved from Blues to Toulon ahead of the 2014-15 season.

The French team went on to hold on to the European Cup with Halfpenny having taken over from Lewsey's fellow 2003 World Cup winner Jonny Wilkinson as goal-kicker

Welsh Rugby Union head of rugby Lewsey told BBC Radio Wales: "A guy who has worked so hard to achieve what he's done and he's achieved it at the highest level and won accolades at that level, you've got to admire.

Josh Lewsey and Jonny Wilkinson
Josh Lewsey and Jonny Wilkinson training at the 2003 World Cup in Australia

"Moreso than that, more interestingly in that, is his path.

"A lot of people go through academies and this that and the other and quite often the guys that truly, truly succeed at the top are the ones sometimes that have gone without and failed a few times in their life.

"And it's about how you learn to deal with that failure, dust yourself down and get up and fight again and he's done that.

"He was turned down by a couple of academies in Wales and he had that self-belief and the drive to keep working, keep working.

"And I think that's a great lesson for people, not just in rugby but for broader life."

Halfpenny is currently training with Wales ahead of the 2015 World Cup in which they will face England, Australia, Uruguay and Fiji in Pool A.

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