Is Leigh Halfpenny the Most Overrated Player in the Northern Hemisphere?

Before I get started on this post I just wanted to clarify; this is not a direct attack on Leigh Halfpenny or some stupid rant about him not being a top player, it is simply an effort to open up a debate over whether people believe there is an excessive amount of hyperbole surrounding him.

BEN_3240-half-sizeI’m aware that this next statement is likely to receive a fair bit of criticism (and not just from Welsh fans) but for me Leigh Halfpenny is not even the best full-back in the 6 Nations, never mind the World. This point has been magnified for me so far in the 6 Nations by Wales’ lack of attacking flair throughout the backs that has continued to hamper their ability to put key points on the board.

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Although Halfpenny is just one of a number of Welsh players struggling to find their attacking flair at the moment, it seems a rare occasion for me when Halfpenny gets me jumping out of my seat in excitement. I accept that not all full-backs have to be exciting attacking players to be effective, but if you look at the other full-backs currently in the 6 Nations you would struggle to list many who were less of an attacking threat than Halfpenny.

Stuart Hogg, Mike Brown, Rob Kearney and Brice Dulin have all shown attacking intent with ball in hand that has caused defences serious concern that I feel you just don’t get with watching Halfpenny. I’ll admit, there have been occasions when I have seen him show he is capable of attacking the oppositions line, but as a counter runner I feel all four of the other full-backs mentioned offer much more in this respect.

And if you were to compare Halfpenny to the incumbent top 3 full-backs in the Southern Hemisphere you would also have to say he compares unfavourably in a number of key areas. Israel Folau for example is at least equal-to, if not notably stronger than Halfpenny under the high ball (one of Leigh’s supposed key strengths) whilst he is also a considerably more potent threat ball-in-hand.

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Meanwhile Willie Le Roux may not be quite as secure under the high ball but his vision and tactical kicking far out-trump Halfpenny and have caused the opposition defence issues on numerous occasions. I also believe that Israel Dagg is the best rounded full-back in the World at the moment and offers much more round the pitch than Halfpenny.

So if Halfpenny falls short in so many aspects of his game then why is there such hype around him? I would suggest this is primarily down to his ability from the kicking tee. Halfpenny has forged a near legendary status with some fans based around his prowess as a goal-kicker and not a lot else. He is obviously solid at the back and a safe pair of hands under the high ball, but can you honestly say he would be as well regarded if he wasn’t his sides primary goal-kicker?

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15 comments

  1. I’d still suck his dick

  2. The most over-rated player in the Northern Hemisphere isn’t Halfpenny, but one of his competitiors mentioned above. Rob Kearney is a godawful defender, an average counter-attacker and a reluctant passer. He is excellent under the high ball, and is a by no means a bad player, but he’s been oh so average for oh so long now.

    Halfpenny is an exceptional player, as you said. Perhaps he does receive too much hype, but he never disappoints.

    • What bullshit , Kearney is up there with the best full-backs in the world and has been for many years now.

      • His passing has improved greatly this season, but his defense is still terrible, Sarto’s try today being a prime example. Until he learns how to marshal a line break, or at least attempt a tackle, he shall not be the world-class player everyone hypes him up to be.

      • Cant believe you just said Kearney is up there with the best… sit down…

  3. Fair point. Often wondered if he is overrated but not on the scale you’re suggesting. Kicking solid, good under high ball but can’t say he offers as much going forward as the other full backs you mentioned. He pops up in support but with ball in hand, give me Mike Brown or Stuart Hogg any day. His best trait is undoubtedly his kicking but does that make him indispensable? I don’t think so. Problem is, are there any better options for Wales?

  4. I would personally call Mathieu Basteraux a more over rated player, seems unable to pass, if he does pass in a game it is a slow pass that looks awful and checks his support runners, his ball security is below par and he seems to not have the impact he had a few years ago,
    forgive the poor spelling of his name but i suspect its close enough to recognise

    • In addition the fact that he just does not carry the ball into contact with any pace, I’ve watched him in the last three France matches and have not seen him run hard once

  5. Halfpenny has not really lived up to expectations this six nations. but that doesn’t mean that he’s consistently not living up to expectations, he’s one of the best defending full-backs in the world, despite his size

  6. Lions fullback? Hogg.. No, Brown.. No, Halfpenny.. Yes, did they win.. Yes.

  7. It’s a shame he isn’t a couple of inches taller with a bigger frame. His natural game would have fit a conservative 10, and I think we may have seen his attacking improve in a similar way to Farrells.

    I think goalkicking is underestimated to a certain degree. If Farrell went down injured, who would you rather have at fullback; Brown or Halfpenny? I think Brown is the superior attacking threat (obviously) but is a try every other game (max) as valuable as almost guaranteed points every time you get a penalty?

    • I’d say that’s true but if you look at Ford who although still young is an exciting yet tiny at least in relative terms fly half. Morgan Parra not full out and out fly halves still competed and did well at international level. Even Hogg when he was tested at fly half for the Lions didn’t do too badly as I recall, I’ll grant does actually have 3 inches on Halfpenny though

  8. Halfpenny does not attack quite as well as all mentioned above!!! But that will improve especially playing out in Toulon!! But defensively he is far in front of all above even giving away quite a bit in size!!! And the others will never improve to his level on this because bravery and commitment in defence is not something that can be taught!!

  9. I would say he does not stand out in terms of attacking flair, he is very good, but it comes in patches. He is probably currently the best goalkicker in the world, and for years has been the best player in the world at taking high balls under pressure. Also a fantastic tackler. Taking all things into consideration, for me his is the best full-back at the moment quite comfortably. I am biased however.

  10. maybe not as an attacking threat as the named full backs,but being a full back isnt just about attacking!! his defense is far better than most mentioned andim pretty sure he went 2 six nations without missing a tackle. id rather have him on my team that against him any day of the week

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