After months of uncertainty since returning from the Lions tour, Europe’s supreme fullback is now in danger of becoming the biggest casualty of the demoralising political war between the Welsh Rugby Union and their four regional teams.
Sources on opposite sides of the English Channel claim Halfpenny has made a significant change within the last seven days about future plans, abandoning hope of being given a central contract by the WRU. Clermont and Toulon have tabled offers in the region of £500,000-a-year for the jewel in the Welsh crown.
Other out-of-contract Welsh players are said to be ‘confused’ by advice from the WRU which they say conflicts with what they have been told by their regional employers.
Scarlets, unable to keep Jonathan Davies out of Clermont’s clutches despite offering the Welsh Lion more than £250,000-a-year, are refusing to let Rhys Priestland leave without a fight.
They have responded to Wasps’ bid with a counter offer aimed at preventing their international fly-half from joining the exodus.
Ospreys are resigned to losing Richard Hibbard to Gloucester at the end of the season. The Lions hooker, keen to make the most of his rising status, has asked to be released from his contract a year early and secure a move likely to double his money.
Dwayne Peel, cold-shouldered by Wales since leaving the Scarlets for Sale five years ago, is being lined up to join Blues lock Bradley Davies at Wasps next season. Another Blues’ player, uncapped Irish back row forward Robin Copeland, is wanted by Munster.
As from next season, the majority of the Wales starting XV will come from clubs in England and France.