Halfpenny eyeing All Blacks after swerving surgery
12 April 2010 09:54am
Leigh Halfpenny on international duty for Wales
Wing Leigh Halfpenny has declared himself fit for Wales' summer tour to New Zealand after swerving an operation on his injured shoulder.
The 21-year-old had been expected to miss out on the All Blacks trip to have corrective surgery on a shoulder problem.
But the Cardiff Blues wing has been told that is no longer the case and has informed coach Warren Gatland of his availability.
Gatland needed to call up teenage duo Tom Prydie and Kristian Phillips to his RBS 6 Nations squad earlier this year to cover for first-choice Halfpenny.
But the Lions tourist said: "I don't need an operation - my shoulder is fine. I'm playing with no problem, so I really don't feel I need surgery on it.
"I'd like to go to New Zealand without a doubt. It's been a tricky season for me. People are always asking me how I'm going to match last season but there was no way I was going to be able to get anywhere near that.
"It's been frustrating given the highs of last season and just trying to deal with things like expectation and players knowing what I'm about. It's been a case of learning how to deal with things like that this year."
As head coach Stuart Lancaster polishes the axe he will soon wield over his World Cup training squad, Exeter Chiefs coach Rob Baxter has backed Jack Nowell, Henry Slade and Luke Cowan-Dickie to be given a stay of execution.
Italy Under-20s held off a late Samoa blitz to retain their place in the World Rugby U20 Championship on Saturday and head coach Alessandro Troncon believes the experience will have served as a valuable lesson for his young troops.