LEIGH HALFPENNY readily accepts that England fullback Mike Brown has the ability to ‘‘hurt’’ Wales in Sunday’s RBS 6 Nations showdown.
Brown has made telling contributions in all three of England’s Six Nations games this season, scoring tries against France and Scotland while providing a brilliant assist for Danny Care’s blistering touchdown that helped account for Ireland nine days ago.
Opposite him in the Wales number 15 shirt at Twickenham, though, will be a player who raised the bar last year as Europe’s premier fullback.
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Halfpenny’s sustained excellence resulted in considerable recogniton. He was player of the series when the British and Irish Lions beat Australia, 2013 Six Nations player of the tournament, BBC Sports Personality of the Year runner-up and BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year, to name just four of the accolades bestowed on him.
‘‘I couldn’t ever have dreamt of a year like it,’’ he said. ‘‘I am trying to maintain those standards that I set myself.
‘‘As a player, you are always putting pressure on yourself to be the best player you can be. Ultimately, you are trying to do a job for your team and for the team to be successful.’’ The 25-year-old’s modest and unassuming nature meant there was never the remotest possibility that any of it would go to his head, and he adopts a similarly gracious approach to assessing opposition players.
‘‘He is a great player,’’ said Halfpenny when asked for his verdict on Brown. ‘‘He has been playing very well for a good period of time now.
‘‘He has got a good attacking game, he’s quick, he’s agile, he is a player that can create something and one that we are going to have to watch.
‘‘If you kick loosely to him, he could hurt you, so that is not something we want to be doing.’’ Halfpenny has a 75 per cent success-rate from four Six Nations appearances against England. He kicked 14 points when Wales won the Triple Crown at Twickenham two years ago.