Leigh Halfpenny admits surprise at Toulon exit ahead of Scarlets debut

Leigh Halfpenny has admitted his surprise at his departure from Toulon earlier this summer. David Davies/PA Images via Getty Images

Leigh Halfpenny has admitted he was shocked to learn he would be released by Toulon while preparing for this summer's British & Irish Lions tour.

Halfpenny, who appeared as a replacement in the first Test against the All Blacks, had agreed a deal to stay on in France only for owner Mourad Boudjellal to back out after the fullback missed the Top 14 final in order to travel with the Lions to New Zealand.

Subsequently Halfpenny agreed a return to Wales with the Scarlets, and ahead of his debut he said: "I had agreed a long time ago to stay at Toulon for one more season, but for whatever reason there were delays.

"Before the [Top 14] semifinal everything had got agreed and it was just a case of signing the contract, but it never came through.

"Then, I found out in New Zealand that there wasn't an option for me."

Wales fullback Halfpenny agreed to join the Scarlets on a national dual contract which will be partly funded by the Welsh Rugby Union.

"I knew I wanted to come back to Wales and that felt like the right option," Halfpenny added.

"Then it was a case of assessing my options from there and after that I made a decision to come to the Scarlets. With the likes of Liam [Williams] and DTH van der Merwe leaving there was a vacancy in the back three and that felt like the right fit.

"Watching the Scarlets play and speaking to the guys, they like to play an attacking brand of rugby. For me that is something I want to bring back into my game.

"Watching how the Scarlets played and knowing a lot of the guys and how they play, it felt like the right choice."

Halfpenny is set to make his debut for Scarlets when they face South African side Southern Kings in the PRO14 on Sept. 2.