Leigh Halfpenny: Lions face tight turnaround, says Toulon full-back

Leigh Halfpenny kicking one of his six penalties against France in the 2017 Six Nations match in Paris.
Leigh Halfpenny has scored 668 international points, including 49 in three Lions Tests

Leigh Halfpenny says British and Irish Lions players face a challenge to acclimatise in New Zealand before their opening tour game on 3 June.

Halfpenny is one of several players who could be part of big domestic matches on the weekend of 26/27 May.

His side Toulon might play a Top 14 semi-final, with the Aviva Premiership and Pro12 finals the same weekend.

"That's one of the challenges in terms of the staff with the Lions with the physical preparations," he said.

"Everyone will be doing everything possible to help with the recovery and the sleeping patterns to try and get over the jet lag as quickly as possible and help the team to prepare for the first game."

The Lions' 10-match schedule has been criticised for being too tough, with the opening match against New Zealand Barbarians followed by games against five Super Rugby teams, the Maori All Blacks and three Test matches against New Zealand.

Coach Warren Gatland's squad fly to New Zealand on Monday, 29 May

Halfpenny, man of the series in the 2-1 victory over Australia in 2013, says the key thing is for the squad to gel together off the field.

"It's a short space of time for the squad to get together and gel and that has to happen quite quickly," he added.

"There's not much preparation time and the matches come thick and fast, and before you know it the Tests are upon you.

"That's the biggest challenge from my experience.

"In 2013 one thing we were hugely successful in was gelling off the field and that showed on the field."

Ross Moriarty (left) and Dan Biggar (right) in action for Wales against Australia
Ross Moriarty (left) and Dan Biggar (right) in action for Wales against Australia

Three from Gorseinon

Halfpenny will be taking part in his third Lions tour, having first been selected for the 2009 trip to South Africa.

He is one of three players in the 41-man strong party to have played for Gorseinon RFC, near Swansea, with fly-half Dan Biggar and forward Ross Moriarty also having spent time in the junior ranks at the club.

"The three of us came through the ranks in Gorseinon and it's a real special occasion for the club," he said.

"I'm hugely proud to have represented that club made a huge contribution towards where I am today.

"I played alongside Dan Biggar as well in the same junior team and I'm just absolutely delighted for Dan and Ross on their selection and for the rugby club.

"They are their hugely proud of them as well."

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