Leigh Halfpenny: Ex-Wales full-back signs one-year deal with Crusaders

Leigh Halfpenny produced five successful kicks on his final game for Wales against Barbarians in November 2023
Leigh Halfpenny produced five successful kicks in his final game for Wales against Barbarians in November 2023

Former Wales full-back Leigh Halfpenny has signed a one-year deal with New Zealand Super Rugby side Crusaders.

Halfpenny announced his international retirement in October and played his last game for Wales in the uncapped 49-26 victory against Barbarians.

The 34-year-old stated his desire to carry on playing club rugby.

"I'm extremely grateful to have the opportunity to join one of the best clubs in the world and I can't wait to meet everyone," said Halfpenny.

"I've always watched Super Rugby and the Crusaders are the team I've always followed.

"I've always loved the time I've spent in New Zealand on tour. It's a passionate rugby nation and I've always been made to feel very much at home there.

"My family and I are very excited about the move."

Halfpenny made his international debut in 2008 and scored 801 points for Wales in 101 games, while also played four Tests for the British and Irish Lions.

He was named Lions player of the series in 2013, helping the tourists to a 2-1 series victory in Australia.

Halfpenny bettered Neil Jenkins' Lions record for the most points in a Test series with 49 and also broke the record for the most points in a single Test as he scored 21 in the third match.

His metronomic kicking places Halfpenny third on the all-time list of men's points scorers for Wales, behind Jenkins (1,049) and Stephen Jones (917).

Wales stars heading south

After leaving Scarlets, Halfpenny becomes the latest Wales figure to travel to New Zealand.

Fly-half Rhys Patchell will link up with the Highlanders next year and Stephen Jones is set to become the Moana Pasifika attack coach, while Mark Jones had a short stint in the Crusaders coaching staff of Scott Robertson, who has just become the New Zealand boss.

Crusaders have won seven successive Super Rugby titles with Rob Penney taking over from Robertson as their new coach.

There is no mention yet of Halfpenny also adopting a coaching role with the Crusaders. He will slot into a back-three alongside the likes of All Blacks wings Will Jordan and Sevu Reece.

"Leigh's a footballer with a huge amount of experience, charisma and skill," said Penney.

"We had our feelers out for a while, and Leigh was finishing up his time with Wales and still had a big desire to play at the highest level, so it's a great fit for us.

"Leigh adds even more maturity to our backline, while also bringing in some northern hemisphere perspective, so we're excited about what he'll bring into camp."