Leigh Halfpenny’s stunning 12 months continues after he was named Wales Sports Personality of the Year on Monday night.
Fresh from playing a pivotal role in Cardiff Blues’ European Cup win over Glasgow Warriors at the weekend, Halfpenny picked up his latest accolade at a dinner in the Welsh capital as he saw off the challenge of the likes of the world’s most expensive football player, Gareth Bale, to succeed 2012 Olympic gold medallist Jade Jones.
Halfpenny also beat world triathlon champion Non Stanford and double world gold medal cyclist Becky James, as well as Paralympic world champion Aled Sion Davies, to his country’s most prestigious sporting award.
The 24-year-old, who has also been nominated for the overall Sports Personality of the Year Award, was named the best player in both the Six Nations and the British and Irish Lions tour of Australia and was voted the ‘Best Player in the World’ by French rugby newspaper Midi Olympique in October.
“It has been a dream of a year and I could not have wished for it to have gone better,” said Halfpenny, who missed out to All Black No.8 Kieran Read for the International Rugby Board Player of the Year award earlier this month.
“To receive this award is a huge honour and to be added to a list of such Welsh talent is a real privilege.
“I have been very fortunate to have been part of some special teams like Wales and the Lions. To win the Six Nations again was magical in the style we did, especially after the run of games we had before coming into the tournament [Wales had lost eight Tests in a row].
“To lift the trophy after defeating England at the Millennium Stadium was a real highlight and one of the best games I have been involved with.
“To then go to Australia and be part of a winning Lions tour after they had not achieved a series victory in 16 years means it does not get much better than that.”
Halfpenny will turn his attentions back to the European Cup again this Saturday as the Blues look for back-to-back wins over the Warriors.
Victory at the Arms Park gave their hopes of a first European Cup quarterfinal since 2009 a huge boost and a third straight pool success would keep the pressure on Pool Two leaders Toulon ahead of their trip to the Stade Felix Mayol in Round Five.
The 2010 European Challenge Cup winner kicked 16 points in last Friday’s 29-20 victory over the Scots as he hit the target with six out of seven attempts at goal.
That tally followed an 11-point haul in the shock win over Toulon, meaning he has now scored 227 points in 32 European games for the Blues.