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Page last updated at 21:06 GMT, Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Halfpenny seeks England revenge

Date: Saturday, 14 February Kick-off: 1730 GMT Venue: Millennium Stadium
Coverage: Live on BBC ONE, full commentary on BBC Radio Five Live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru and the BBC Sport website

By Tom Fordyce

Leigh Halfpenny
Halfpenny's rise through the Welsh ranks has been rapid

Wales wing Leigh Halfpenny says he will be on a revenge mission against England at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.

The 20-year-old, who scored a try on his Six Nations debut against Scotland last weekend, has finished on the losing side four times against England.

He said: "I've played them twice at Under-16s, once at Under-18s and once at Under-20s, and lost every time.

"It will be a massive occasion, and it would be great for me to finally get a winning result."

With Shane Williams battling an ankle injury and Mark Jones still a doubt following appendix surgery, Halfpenny has a good chance of retaining his place when coach Warren Gatland names his team on Thursday morning.

Selection would cap an extraordinary 12 months for the young tyro.

He watched the corresponding fixture last year on a big screen at his local rugby club in Gorseinon, and was among the thousands of Welsh fans packed into pubs on St Mary Street in Cardiff on the day the Grand Slam was sealed against France.

"After the first half at Twickenham I thought, 'Oh no, here we go…" but the second half was fantastic,' he said. "It was a brilliant occasion.

606: DEBATE
"I was in the stadium with my mates for the England game in 2005, when Gav (Henson) stuck over the winning penalty, and I hope that if I'm playing it's as good a feeling as when I've watched them."

Halfpenny had played just seven games for the Cardiff Blues when he was called up for the autumn internationals, making his debut opposite Bryan Habana against South Africa and running in two tries against Canada.

"I didn't even expect to be featuring as much as I have with the Blues, let alone come into a Grand Slam-winning team, so every game I get the chance to play is a massive occasion," he said.

"There's a lot of pressure coming into this side, because they are the champions.

"I have to keep playing as well as I can to be in with a shout of making the side - there's a lot of competition for places, and I'm just happy to be in the set-up."

Despite England's laboured performance against Italy in the opening round of matches, Halfpenny is wary of the threat Martin Johnson's men might pose.

"If we do get in front on Saturday, we cannot afford to switch off like we did against Scotland.

"It's something we really need to learn from, because if it happens in the next match, it could really cost us. England might not have played that well but they got the result, and it'll be tough."

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see also
Roberts wary of Wales complacency
09 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
Wales will be ferocious - Johnson
08 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
Highlights - Scotland 13-26 Wales
08 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union


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