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‘I have no doubts’: Rhys Patchell’s message for injured Leigh Halfpenny

By Finn Morton
Rhys Patchell (R) and Leigh Halfpenny walk out from the players tunnel ahead of the Wales captain's run at Oita Stadium on October 18, 2019 in Oita, Japan. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Former Wales fly-half Rhys Patchell has “no doubts” that injured Crusaders fullback Leigh Halfpenny will still have an impact this season during his unfortunate stint on the sidelines.

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Halfpenny, who represented Wales and the British and Irish Lions during a decorated international career, played 15 minutes of the Crusaders’ pre-season clash with Munster.

The 35-year-old watched the rest of the match last month with his arm in a sling, with the Crusaders later confirming that their big-name recruit would miss three to four months with a chest injury.

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Rhys Patchell on Leigh Halfpenny injury

Highlanders number ten Rhys Patchell discusses his relationship with currently injured Crusaders fullback, Leigh Halfpenny

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Rhys Patchell on Leigh Halfpenny injury

Highlanders number ten Rhys Patchell discusses his relationship with currently injured Crusaders fullback, Leigh Halfpenny

While Halfpenny is still on track to return at some stage this season, one of his “good mates” is confident that the former Wales fullback will find a way to contribute off the field in the meantime.

Rhys Patchell, who played alongside Halfpenny at both Wales and Scarlets, explained that his highly-professional former roommate would find “25 hours in a 24 hour day.”

“My old mate Halfpenny has done himself in for a little while but hopefully it won’t be too long until he gets on the field,” Patchell told RugbyPass.

“We’ve been good mates, or I think we’re good mates, you might ask him and he thinks I’m an absolute clown but nah we’re all good. We used to room together all the time at Scarlets and with Wales.

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“He’s in good spirits. He is back with the Crusaders now which is awesome. His timeline for getting fit would allow him to play in Super Rugby.

“You don’t get 101 caps, three British Lions Tours without being probably the most diligent professional ever and finding 25 hours in a 24 hour day. He’ll be doing everything that he can.

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“Even if he’s not able to get on the field for a period of time with his rehabilitation he’ll be contributing to the environment up the road, I have no doubts.

“Maybe at some point, we might have a window, 48 hours, for one of us to either drive up or drive down.”

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Patchell, 30, is another former Welsh international who has made the move down south with the playmaker inking a one-year deal with New Zealand side the Highlanders.

The 22-cap Welsh international started in the No. 10 jersey during the Highlanders’ opening-round 35-21 win over Moana Pasifika at Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium.

But before the season got underway, Patchell sat down with this writer to discuss the “surprise” move after being released by Scarlets.

“It came as a bit of a surprise to me when I got a phone call saying, ‘do you fancy it?’ As soon as it came across the desk it was something I was pretty keen on, spins my wheels,” Patchell said.

“The opportunity to come down here, challenge myself in a completely different environment. I knew absolutely nobody at the club, wouldn’t know much about the crop of players that the Highlanders had coming through.

“It’s one of those things that wouldn’t have come again. I’ve said to other people before, I didn’t want to get to the end of my career and have lots of great opportunities but didn’t make the most of any of them or hadn’t taken any of them.

“(I) felt this was something that I absolutely wanted to do and fortunately I have a very supportive fiancé who was on board with the idea as well.

“It was pretty quick from going, ‘what do you reckon’ to making a decision around it, and then a long wait after that to actually get your feet on the ground and get going.”

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