11:48am Friday 29th November 2013
By Iwan Gabe Davies
WALES star Leigh Halfpenny says it is a “privilege” to be in the running for the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year award as he aims to round off an incredible 2013 with a Wales victory over Australia.
Already crowned Six Nations player of the year and the finest British and Irish Lions man during their 2-1 series victory over the Wallabies this summer, the full-back is on a ten-strong short-list for the prestigious prize now in its 60th year.
The Cardiff Blues hero will be vying for the BBC trophy along with the illustrious likes of Wimbledon winner Andy Murray, athletics great Mo Farah and Tour de France champion Chris Froome.
“Obviously I’m absolutely delighted,” said the Lions hero who has amassed 336 points for Wales in his 47 caps so far.
“It’s just a huge honour and a privilege to be nominated alongside the other names that have been. The people that have been short-listed have had a fantastic year.”
The humble Halfpenny, who turns 25 at the end of next month, added: “I wouldn’t have been nominated if it wasn’t for my teammates, my coaches that I work with throughout the year, for both club and country.
“And the support my family and friends have shown me has been fantastic. Without all them, I wouldn’t have been nominated, so it’s a huge thank you to them.”
The Swansea-born Halfpenny has also been short-listed for IRB Player of the Year, along with All Blacks number eight Kieran Read, Springboks giant Eben Etzebeth and Italian pin-up Sergio Parisse.
But he is looking no further than tomorrow’s clash as he seeks a first victory over the Wallabies in a Wales shirt.
“For the team, it’s huge we finish the year with a win against Australia,” he said.
“We’ve been close many a time, losing by one or two points and it’s been hugely frustrating.
“We’ve been devastated. The second and third Tests down there last year we came off the pitch feeling we should have won with the rugby we played and we just haven’t quite managed to see the game out and lost by a point or two.
He added: “That was hugely gutting and obviously this time last year at home we lost in the last play in the dying seconds and we were massively gutted again. For us now, it’s about going out and winning.
“At times, we feel like we’ve played the better rugby, but haven’t quite won the game and that’s where we need to go now to the next level is beating the southern hemisphere sides and beating the likes of Australia, which is huge.”
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