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Leigh Halfpenny eying up Neil Jenkins' Lions record

Updated: Thursday, 20 Jun 2013 22:19 | Comments

Leigh Halfpenny wants to kick his way past Neil Jenkins' points record
Leigh Halfpenny wants to kick his way past Neil Jenkins' points record

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Leigh Halfpenny is on course to repay his goal-kicking mentor by removing him from the British and Irish Lions record book.

But it will be a case of job done for Wales' all-time international scorer Neil Jenkins if Halfpenny maintains his remarkable strike-rate in three Tests against Australia.

Halfpenny has amassed 65 points from just three appearances Down Under, and missed only one kick from 23 shots at goal.

Lions kicking coach Jenkins holds the record of 41 for a series, which he achieved against South Africa during a 2-1 triumph in 1997.

Wales full-back Halfpenny will sail past that mark if he maintains form, fitness and his current points average, but Jenkins is guaranteed to receive a considerable amount of the credit if he does so.

"For me, 'Jenks' has been huge since he picked me up in the academy and I have come right through with him to senior level," Halfpenny said.

"He has been massive in terms of my preparation for every game.

"He was the best (goal-kicker) in the world in his day, and I couldn't think of anyone better to have, bringing on the tee for me and giving me little pointers just before the kick and things.

"He's huge for me in that regard. He has just been massive for me in terms of my progression through the years and preparing me mentally and technically.

"But 'Jenks' can only do so much, It is up to us to go out and perform."

Even with a player like Ireland fly-half Jonathan Sexton in the ranks for Saturday's first Test - he has scored almost 300 points for his country - Halfpenny will start as first-choice marksman.

In two of his three tour games - against Western Force and NSW Waratahs - he delivered a 100 per cent record, while his only miss so far was a failed conversion during a 64-0 rout of New South Wales Country.

"We all know how fine the margins are between winning and losing in international rugby, and how often kicks decide the outcome," - Leigh Halfpenny

"Every kick in international rugby is crucial. We all know how fine the margins are between winning and losing in international rugby, and how often kicks decide the outcome," he said.

"I have dreamt of kicking the winning kick for the Lions. Watching Lions tours growing up, I thought I would love to be pulling the Lions jersey on and kicking goals for them.

"To be actually selected to play in a Test is a dream come true. I never thought this would happen.

"I am obviously pleased with the way things have gone in the last couple of games, but that's gone.

"It's about getting back on the pitch now and putting in the hard work and making sure I'm as prepared as best as possible to go into Saturday - and hopefully continue with how it has been going.

"For me, it's just focusing on every kick as it comes. When I get asked at the end how many I've kicked I say 'I don't know', because I don't. I need to be told.

"Once you've kicked one that's gone, whether you've missed or put it over. You are focusing on the next one then, and that's the important one, the one that counts."

Halfpenny, though, is not just a prolific goal-kicker, with his general full-back play winning many admirers. He is also at the top of the 2013 Lions try charts alongside Brian O'Driscoll, Alex Cuthbert and Jonathan Davies.

And he is also ready to receive the aerial bombardment that will come from Australia's kickers at Suncorp Stadium.

"I really love every aspect of the role of full-back. I love the aerial battle, I see it as a challenge between myself and the guy chasing," he said. "Owning the sky, I like to call it. I love it.

"Every time that ball goes in the air, the challenge has been put up there, who is going to collect it? It is an area we have worked very hard on throughout the week. Hopefully, we can come out on top on Saturday."

Live radio coverage of Australia v Lions from 10.55 on Saturday 22 June on RTÉ 2fm and RTÉ.ie (RoI only).

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