Leigh Halfpenny is relishing Saturday’s derby with a difference as the Scarlets and Ospreys go head to head for a place in next season’s European Champions Cup.
The Wales and Lions full-back joined an elite band of Welshmen who have lifted Europe’s premier club trophy when he was part of the triumphant Toulon side of 2015.
The Scarlets have shown they can stand toe to toe with Europe’s heavyweights in recent years, taking the scalp of three-times winners Toulon on the way to the semi-finals last season.
And Halfpenny says there is a determination within the camp to be back among the best again.
“It’s a massive game,” he said. “We know what is at stake – a place in the Champions Cup, which is everything. It’s where we want to be playing.
“As players you want to be testing yourself against the best teams in Europe. It’s huge for the club as well as the fans.”
Bragging rights have been shared between the sides this season. Halfpenny kicked 10 points as the Scarlets won 20-17 in October, but it was the Ospreys who took the spoils at the Liberty over the festive season.
“The history between the Scarlets and the Ospreys means it is hugely exciting as well,” he added.
“As players these are the games you look forward to. The derbies are always massive and this one will be no different with what is at stake.
“The boys are hugely excited and motivated to go and do well. The season really hasn’t gone our way or how we would have liked, but it’s an opportunity now for us to go out and put a performance in and to finish the season on a high.”
Halfpenny has been a regular in the Scarlets line-up since returning from a concussion issue at the end of February and is one of 14 players from the region who have been named in Wales’s World Cup training squad for Japan later this year.
“I’m feeling good physically,” he added. “There has been no reaction to the injury. I feel I’m over that now and I’ve put it behind me.
“I’m enjoying being back on the field with the boys.”
Reflecting on the season as a whole, the 80-cap Wales full-back said: “At times we feel like we’ve shown glimpses of what we’ve been capable of.
“In parts we’ve played how we want to play, but we probably haven’t done it for the full 80.
“It’s a chance for us at the weekend to really put in an 80-minute performance.
“It’s a huge game, a huge occasion, and the boys are extremely excited about it.”
Let’s paint the Liberty red! Scarlets fans can purchase their tickets at https://www.eticketing.co.uk/scarletsrugby/ or in person from the Scarlets Ticket Office.