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Leigh Halfpenny to return from nine-month injury nightmare in Toulon's Top 14 semi-final

The Welsh international hasn’t played since September.

Leigh Halfpenny leaving the field on a stretcher during Wales' World Cup warm-up match against Italy last September.
Leigh Halfpenny leaving the field on a stretcher during Wales' World Cup warm-up match against Italy last September.
Image: PA Archive/Press Association Images

LEIGH HALFPENNY IS set to make his first appearance of the season for Toulon in their Top 14 semi-final clash against Montpellier on Saturday.

Toulon manager Bernard Laporte announced on Friday that the Wales international full-back will line up for the crunch encounter despite not having played for nine months.

“He will play, for sure,” said Laporte in a press conference in Rennes, where both Top 14 semi-finals will be played. “He was supposed to play four or five times already but every time something was wrong — one time it’s the meniscus, another it’s the hamstring.

“He’s unlucky. He’s been training for six months, sometimes up to five or six hours a day. That’s a long time given his big operation was eight months ago.”

The 27-year-old tore his cruciate knee ligament against Italy in Wales’ final warm-up match ahead of the World Cup last year. Several times since he has appeared to be on the brink of a return to action, only to break down in training.

Halfepenny’s inclusion will be a boost for the 2014 champions in terms of his impeccable kicking off the tee, but also brings with it a degree of uncertainty given that he has yet to feature alongside his team-mates all season.

Rugby Union - European Champions Cup Final - Clermont Auvergne v Toulon - Twickenham Stadium Halfpenny taking a kick for Toulon during last season's European Champions Cup Final against Clermont. Source: David Davies

“We’ll see how long he lasts,” added Laporte, who said Halfpenny would likely tire in the last 20 minutes “depending on the intensity”.

The other Top 14 semi-final sees last year’s beaten finalists Clermont play Racing 92, who lost to Saracens in the European Champions Cup final last month.

- © AFP 2015

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