It is a magnificent milestone for a player who has been representing his country from the age of 15. Capped at every age level from U16 through to the senior team, he played at the U19 Junior World Cup, the inaugural U20 Junior World Championship and is now shooting for a third Rugby World Cup tournament.
WELSH RUGBY’S CENTURIONS
Alun Wyn Jones (158 caps), Gethin Jenkins (129), George North (113), Dan Biggar (107), Stephen Jones (104), Martyn Williams (100), Gareth Thomas (100), Taulupe Faletau (100)
It is amazing to think that both he and Dan Biggar, who is on the bench at the weekend having already won 107 caps, were in the same Wales U16 team back in 2005. They both came from the same club, Gorseinon RFC.
“If you’re talking about having role model as a professional player, you could not find a harder worker than Leigh Halfpenny in terms of how he prepares,” said Gatland.
“The analysis, the training and the recovery, he’s the ultimate professional. He’s not the biggest guy in the world and he started his career on the wing.
“Then he has been brilliant as a positional No15. He’s maybe lost a yard or two of pace, he admits that himself, but he’s a tremendous goalkicker and is still probably the best defensive full-back in the world.
“It’s a great honour for him to reach 100 caps for his country and I’m delighted for him. It’s been a while coming with all his injuries, but hopefully Saturday will be a great occasion for him and his family.”
There have been plenty of ups and downs in a senior international career that began with a game against the world champion Springboks in 2008 after he had made only seven senior games of professional rugby.
Seven months later he was heading to South Africa on the first of his three tours with the British & Irish Lions. Injuries have limited his opportunities at times, but at 34 he is more than keeping up with his peers in the Wales World Cup training squad. With 785 points to his credit for Wales in his 99 games to date, he is Wales’ third highest points scorer behind Neil Jenkins (1,049) and Stephen Jones (917).
LEIGH HALFPENNY FACTFILE
22 December 1988 in Swansea
Height / Weightt
1.75m / 5′ 9“ – 83.64kg / 13st 2lbs
Pontybrenin Primary School, Penyrheol Comprehensive School, Swansea College
Ospreys Academy, Cardiff RFC, Cardiff Blues, Toulon, Scarlets
Wales U16, U18, U19, U20, Wales, British & Irish Lions
v South Africa 8 November 2008 (Cardiff)Lions Test Debut
v Australia 22 June 2013 (Brisbane)
99 games – 785 points (Tries: 15, Cons: 76, Pens: 186)Lions Points
11 games – 145 points (Tries: 3, Cons: 23, Pens: 28)
Grand Slam (2012), Six Nations titles (2013, 2021), Six Nations Player of the Championship (2013),
BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year (2013), Lions tours (2009, 2013, 2017), Lions Player of Series (2013), EDF Energy Cup (2009), European Challenge Cup (2010), Heineken Champions Cup (2015)