Men Behind the Tour: No.1 – Leigh Halfpenny

While every single touring British & Irish Lion - and there were more than 40 of them - as well as the countless support staff must take credit for a first series win in 16 years, few would begrudge Leigh Halfpenny taking the lion's share. [more]

Men Behind the Tour: No.1 – Leigh Halfpenny

While every single touring British & Irish Lion – and there were more than 40 of them – as well as the countless support staff must take credit for a first series win in 16 years, few would begrudge Leigh Halfpenny taking the lion’s share.

Halfpenny landed 40 of his 45 kicks on tour, and a large proportion were from the touchline but that was just one of the strings to his bow during a tour which saw him collect the man-of-the-series award.

In the deciding clash in Sydney alone he broke the record for the most points scored by a Lion in a single Test (21) and the most points (49) by a Lion in any Test series.

And in truth, that only tells the half of it. He also had a key role in the second and third tries in Sydney, those that finally put Australia to bed.

For the second, he made an incisive break down the left and fed Jonny Sexton inside, maintaining the wherewithal to ensure the pass went backwards, allowing the Irish fly-half to cross the whitewash.

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And for the third, his contribution was even better. Will Genia’s clearance kick was right down Halfpenny’s throat – unsurprising as his positioning was impeccable throughout the tour.

And, fielding the ball, he scythed through the Australian line before delivering a perfectly-timed pass to George North who cruised down the left wing for his second try of the series.

Typically however, Halfpenny was modest about his record-breaking achievements.

“I can't put it into words really how much it means. It's everything I've dreamed of as a kid growing up watching Lions tours,” said Halfpenny, who scored 114 points in seven appearances throughout the tour.

“To be part of a winning Lions tour is one of the best things ever and up there with the best moments of my career.

“I wouldn't be able to kick the goals without the hard work of my team-mates.

“They were outstanding. It wasn't just the starting 15, the match 23, it's the squad, the management and everything.

“It's a huge squad effort, there's a lot of hard work gone in since the start and the goal has always been to come away with a series win and that's what we've done.”

By all accounts Halfpenny was devastated by his last-gasp penalty in the second Test – a mammoth effort that fell short.

So it was fitting to see him nail his first penalty of the third Test, an equally long effort which banished the demons and allowed Halfpenny to guide the Lions to glory.

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