Phillips wants Halfpenny to return to Wales

Former Wales scrum-half Mike Phillips wants compatriot Leigh Halfpenny to return to Welsh regional rugby following his expected exit from Toulon this summer.

The 28-year-old is searching for a new club after angering Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal by missing the French side’s Top 14 final defeat to Clermont due to his British & Irish Lions commitments.

As most clubs have already maximised their playing budget, Halfpenny is short on options as the new season nears with both Bath and Wasps denying interest in the Wales international.

Halfpenny was previously linked with a return to the Cardiff Blues, and former teammate Mike Phillips wants the fullback back in his homeland.

“It would be great to have him back in Wales,” Phillips told the BBC. “The Welsh regions should do everything they can to keep these players.

“Hopefully they can do everything to get Leigh back in Wales, because it would be great for everyone, especially for the young supporters to come and see the stars play.

“It’s important the talent stays here.”

Halfpenny played for the Blues for six years, making his debut for the region in 2008, before moving to Toulon in 2014, where he went on to win the European Champions Cup a year later.

However, Halfpenny declined the chance to return to Wales earlier this year after he turned down a £420,000-a-year dual contract after the player and the WRU failed to agree on the length of the contract.

Halfpenny wanted to have the option of heading to Super Rugby after the 2019 Rugby World Cup.