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Wales torn on whether Leigh Halfpenny deserves a return place ahead of Liam Williams

BY Grant Constable  ·  Wednesday Feb 13, 2019

Wales were dealt a major boost ahead of their Six Nations clash with England next weekend, as Leigh Halfpenny had returned to the squad. However, there has been a division amongst fans as to whether the Scarlets fullback should start.*EDIT Halfpenny has now been released after training. Update below

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Halfpenny has been out of action since a head injury in the Autumn against Australia, and the three-time British and Irish Lions tourist will of course give coach Warren Gatland more options at fullback.

However, Liam Williams was arguably Wales’ best performer against France and did not do himself a disservice against the Italians either. Many fans are aware of this and think it would be unfair for the Saracen to be dropped.

On the other hand, England’s kicking has been a huge weapon of theirs so far this Six Nations, particularly the box-kick against Ireland, and their eye for space against the French.

Halfpenny is one of the most solid fullbacks in world rugby and is positionally very astute. Alongside his kicking, some fans believe that he could come in to nullify one of England’s greatest strengths.

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Then again, Williams is certainly not a weakness under the high ball and is also a natural fullback, meaning he won’t be caught out in the same way Yoann Huget was for France. Williams also provides a lot more in terms of ball carrying, something that Halfpenny now lacks.

The thought of Dan Biggar at fly-half and Halfpenny at fullback worries a number of fans, as it is too conservative. Not to mention the fact that the team will not need two place kickers of their standard.

One option that a number of fans are also settling on is playing Williams on the wing, with one of Josh Adams or George North missing out. This is another viable option, but it is just another indication of how the Welsh fans are torn over this news, and while Halfpenny has been a shoe-in over the past decade, the fans do not have as much confidence in him any more.

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Finally, there is also a cohort of fans that think it would be unfair to throw Halfpenny back into such a pivotal match, given his potential lack of match fitness. Also the fans are taking into account his welfare, as he has had a number of head injuries in the past. Then again, if he were not fit, he would surely not be allowed to play at all.

https://twitter.com/andymeg34/status/1095286757095063553

https://twitter.com/Daniel_John08/status/1095280175380684800

*EDIT:

The following players will be released back to their respective regions and will link back up with the National Squad on Monday.

Released after training on Wednesday (today):

Rhys Patchell, Steff Evans and Leigh Halfpenny (all Scarlets)

Released after training on Thursday (tomorrow):

Seb Davies, Josh Turnbull and Jarrod Evans (all Cardiff Blues)

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