Six Nations

Wales' Halfpenny still eyes Six Nations title after Ireland loss

Leigh Halfpenny (AP)
Leigh Halfpenny (AP)

Cardif - Leigh Halfpenny hopes history will repeat itself this season as Wales look to win the Six Nations despite a defeat by Ireland.

Halfpenny was a member of the Wales squad which lost their opening match of the 2013 Championship at home to Ireland only to finish top of the table after winning their remaining matches.

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Wales return to Six Nations action at home to France this coming Saturday before rounding off this year's edition with matches against England at Twickenham and Scotland in Cardiff.

"Absolutely, we can still win it," said Halfpenny. "We have lost one game - and we are hurting from that.

"But it's not over," added the 31-year-old full-back, a veteran of 87 Tests for Wales and four for the British and Irish Lions.

"We have to win every game now and that is the challenge. We are hugely excited about that. We did it in 2013 after losing our first game at home to Ireland and then winning the rest."

Wayne Pivac's first two matches as Wales coach ended in comfortable wins over the Barbarians and Italy.

But it was a different story for Pivac, who has succeeded fellow New Zealander Warren Gatland as Wales boss, in a 24-14 loss to Ireland in Dublin last time out.

"We know they (Ireland) are quality and it is a tough place to win," Halfpenny said.

"But we are disappointed with the errors we made throughout the game. Put them right and we put ourselves in a better position against France."

Next weekend's match is set to witness the return of Shaun Edwards to Cardiff's Principality Stadium.

Edwards was Gatland's defensive chief during the whole of the head coach's 12-year tenure in charge of Wales that saw them win four Six Nations titles, three Grand Slams and reach two World Cup semi-finals.

But Edwards is now a member of France's backroom staff, with Les Bleus coming to Cardiff chasing a Grand Slam following wins over England and Italy.

"He is a great coach to work with, what he did for Welsh rugby was fantastic," Halfpenny said. "Working with Shaun brought my defensive game on immensely.

"He improved me and taught me a lot about the game. I have a lot to thank him for.

"It will be weird facing him, but that is rugby. Time moves on and it is exciting to be going up against his defensive style."

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