Former Wales full-back Halfpenny found himself in a peculiar situation on Saturday night
Ahead of a historic clash between Super Rugby Pacific champions Crusaders and United Rugby Championship winners Munster, Wakes legend Leigh Halfpenny remarkably joined his new team-mates for a rendition of the Christchurch-based club’s ‘Takina te kawa’ Haka.
Many took to social media to express their surprise following the 35-year-old’s inclusion in the pre-match ritual, which took place before a capacity crowd of 40,885 at the Páirc Uí Chaoimh in Cork.
Related: Wales Six Nations squad
Watch Halfpenny haka v Munster
The match – which marked the first time both sides had met – finished 21-19 in the Munstermen’s favour after fly-half Rivez Reihana missed a last-minute conversion for the visitors.
Halfpenny, who announced his international retirement following his third World Cup campaign, last year joined the Crusaders on a one-year deal and this occasion marked the former Scarlets man’s debut for the side.
The Swansea-born player achieved 105 caps in his international test career, representing both Wales and the British and Irish Lions. Crusaders were playing their first match without Scott Robertson for the first time in eight years following his appointment as New Zealand head coach.
Lock Gavin Coombes scored a brace for the hosts, who raced into an early 14-0 lead when Kiwi-born fly-half Joey Carbery followed up with the extras. Mitch Drummond ensured the visitors had a say on the scoreboard just before half-time, and Taha Kemara subsequently converted to keep Crusaders within seven points.
They then equalised after All Black Dallas McLeod shot through with an excellent solo run, before Reihana tied up the score with a clinically dispatched kick. But Munster raced clear once again when hooker Scott Buckley crossed and Carbery finished the job. Jamie Hannah’s last-minute try had spectators on the edge of their seats, but the hosts breathed a sigh of relief as Reihana mishit his kick.
Following the full-time whistle, man of the moment Halfpenny was seen wearing an arm sling – potentially ruling him out of Crusaders’ next fixture on their UK and Ireland tour against Bristol Bears on 9 February.