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Halfpenny is focused and ready to step up for Wales in the crunch.

Byline: Simon Thomas

LEIGH HALFPENNY insists he will be ready to meet the challenge if Wales winning the Six Nations title comes down to him.

The Cardiff Blues kicking ace knows a trophy-sealing seven-point victory over Grand Slam-chasing England could hinge on his boot.

"I have pictured myself mentally facing a kick that could be the one to win it," he said.

"If it comes down to it I will be prepared for that opportunity.

"Hopefully all the hard work and practice I have put in throughout my career will help me come through it and I will put it over. If that moment comes I will be ready.

"I have been preparing for moments like that for weeks and months.

"I have had to do it in the past and I have learned hugely from them.

"I was in that situation last year against Ireland and it went well.

"It is hugely important you stay calm and focused if it is a kick to win.

"It could come down to that and it does make me nervous just thinking about it. But it is a privilege to be in that position.

"Kicking for Wales has always been my dream and I love doing it."

That love was tested more than ever before at Murrayfield last Saturday when Halfpenny missed three penalties in quick succession against Scotland.

It was the biggest mental challenge he has faced yet, but he came through it, bouncing back with seven successful kicks on the trot in a 28-18 victory.

"For me, handing the kicking over to someone else was never an option," said the 24-year-old.

"I wanted that responsibility. "It was difficult after I missed that third one, but you have to go back to basics and trust the hard work you have put in during the weeks before.

"I went back to what I was good at and, with the help of Neil Jenkins, who was fantastic calming me, I came through.

"I was really pleased to come through what was the toughest test I have had as a kicker."

Now it's on to the huge Millennium meeting with England.

"I think this is possibly the biggest. It is definitely up there with the biggest games I have been involved in with Wales," he said.

"We have to give it everything and do that jersey justice.

"Wales v England for the Six Nations title - it doesn't really get much bigger than that and I cannot wait.

"It is the game all Welsh fans look forward to and there is a huge amount riding on it.

"They are coming here for their Grand Slam and we are playing to defend our title."

There seemed little prospect of Wales being in the title hunt when they lost their opening championship match against Ireland.

But they have forced their way back into the mix with successive victories on the road in Paris, Rome and Edinburgh.

"The way we reacted to the disappointment of the Ireland defeat was immense," said Halfpenny.

"We have always believed. "There was only one game gone and we knew we could still defend our title. Now we have that opportunity and we have to grab it with both hands.

"We certainly feel we owe the home crowd one, without a doubt.

"The support they have shown us on the road in the last few games has been immense, as it was during the difficult defeats.

"I have no doubt that will be the same again and it is vital we put in a performance for them."


Leigh Halfpenny has been in devastating goal-kicking form during the Six Nations Championship
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 16, 2013
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