Wales ‘have to watch’ Mike Brown against England, warns Halfpenny

'Looking to defend our title' as Wales face England in a crucial Six Nations match on Saturday, Leigh Halfpenny says stopping Mike Brown will be key.

Leigh Halfpenny and Wales have two wins and one loss through their first three Six Nations matches.
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Leigh Halfpenny has warned his Wales teammates that opposing full-back Mike Brown can hurt the Six Nations champions when they face England at Twickenham on Sunday.

Brown’s defensive excellence and counter-attacking skills, which led to a try for Harlequins teammate Danny Care, were key factors in England’s 13-10 win over Ireland last time out.

Fellow full-back Halfpenny – the player of last season’s Six Nations and subsequently the series when the British and Irish Lions triumphed in Australia – was impressed.

“He is a great player,” Halfpenny said of Brown on Monday. “He has been playing very well for a good period of time now.

“He has got a good attacking game, he’s quick, he’s agile, he is a player that can create something and one that we are going to have to watch.

“If you kick loosely to him, he could hurt you, so that is not something we want to be doing.”

Now bound for a big-money move to European champions Toulon at the end of this season, the 25-year-old Halfpenny had the kind of year in 2013 that is the stuff of fantasy for most players.

“I couldn’t ever have dreamt of a year like it,” he said. “I am trying to maintain those standards that I set myself.

“As a player, you are always putting pressure on yourself to be the best player you can be. Ultimately, you are trying to do a job for your team and for the team to be successful.”

Wales will be looking for a third win in four Six Nations visits to Twickenham under coach Warren Galand this weekend.

Two years ago Halfpenny’s last-ditch tackle on home wing David Strettle helped Wales secure a 19-12 win over England at Twickenham and with it the Triple Crown – the prize in English sights on Sunday.

“I have seen the tackle played back a couple of times,” Halfpenny said.

“I just tried to get my whole body behind it to try and stop him because he was coming at such a pace. I managed to get my head caught in the middle and caught his knee. I think it was fantastic work from Jon Davies and George North as well to hold him up and stop him scoring.

“I didn’t really remember too much of the game when I walked off until I had a chance to watch it again.

“I had to go in for a medical assessment in the changing room, just as the guys were about to lift the Triple Crown, which I didn’t realise.”

Halfpenny could be one of as many as 11 players in the Wales starting XV this weekend who also played in last year’s record 30-3 thrashing of England in Cardiff – a win that gave the Welsh their second straight Six Nations title and denied the English a Grand Slam.

“They (England) are going to be hurting from the last game,” said Halfpenny. “They are going to come out and want to really bring it to us. That is something we are going to have to be prepared for.

“We are going to Twickenham as Six Nations champions and we are looking to defend our title. It’s going to be a huge game and one that we are hugely excited about.”