Leigh Halfpenny has set next month’s friendly with Argentina as the date that could decide his World Cup aspirations.
The 2009 Lion is currently struggling with a foot injury that head coach Warren Gatland has admitted remains a concern ahead of the start of the global gathering Down Under in September.
And now Halfpenny himself has admitted that he really needs to be back in action when Wales host the Pumas on August 20 if he wants to be in the 30-man squad that travels to New Zealand.
“We’ve set the Argentina game as our goal and hopefully I will be up and running by then for that match,” Halfpenny told the Western Mail.
“I definitely feel I need to be fit for that game to have a realistic shout of going to the World Cup.
“There’s a lot of competition in the back three and I need a game to be able to show that I’m fit and put my hand up for a place on that plane to New Zealand.
”I’ve always dreamed of playing in a World Cup for Wales. I am trying to do everything I can to get back because time is tight.”
Halfpenny has flown out to Poland with the rest of the Wales squad for a training camp in Spala but he is still wearing a protective ’moon’ boot following corrective surgery.
The 22-year-old suffered the setback playing for Cardiff Blues against Treviso on April 21 and is now approximately halfway into a 16-week course of rehab.
And having featured in just two of Wales’ Tests last season due a previous ankle injury, Halfpenny is desperate to return to action sooner rather than later.
“Since I had the op, we’ve been rehabbing it as much as I can to give me the best chance to be able to be fit in time,” added the youngest Lion on the 2009 tour of South Africa.
“It was in the first five minutes of the game. I received the ball and got tackled from behind and just got tangled and my foot dragged on the floor. I just thought I’d tweaked my ankle ligaments again, but the scan revealed it was a new injury.
“I’d ruptured the ligament between two of the bones in my foot. When I had the scan they could see that the bone had shifted, so they needed to open me up to see how much it had. And when they did that, they realised it had shifted quite a bit, so there was a lot of instability there.
“Because of that, they had to put a screw in to hold the bones together and to allow the ligament to heal. What was first thought to be a small thing has turned out to be quite a big injury.
“It was a four month job and I was given that diagnosis nine weeks ago. That takes me right up to the World Cup.”