Leigh Halfpenny is set to fill the huge gap left by Welsh legend and all time leading try scorer Shane Williams. That is according to the Wales’ head coach Warren Gatland.

Williams retired from international rugby in spectacular fashion, scoring a try in the last play against Australia at the Millennium Stadium in December but with the Six Nations on the horizon it is time for the Welsh to move on.

George North and Halfpenny have both impressed in recent games and with Halfpenny hitting form for Cardiff and finally getting a good run of Rugby without picking up injuries he is starting to show his real potential. For years Halfpenny has seemed on the verge of making it big and it appears he could finally do it just as Wales need a new talisman. The Rugby Union Betting markets are awash with punters backing Halfpenny to do the business.

Williams has been the main man in Cardiff since 2003 but the years caught up with him and he has retired at the top of his game, before the years took a real toll on his legendary legacy in Welsh Rugby.

It will now be time for the new generation of Welsh stars to shine through. They impressed at the World Cup, finishing fourth but they showed the potential to go further and be better over the next four years.

Warburton, North and Faletau stole the show at the World Cup but if Halfpenny can hit top form he will be a critical part of any Welsh success in forthcoming years, and hopefully help improve on Wales’ Betfair Six Nations 2012 chances. His versatility appeals to Gatland, with Halfpenny seeming equally effective on the wing or at full back.

The Welsh side at the World Cup were impressive and things will continue to improve. They are still producing more potential world beaters and with Halfpenny still only 23, despite being in the fourth year of his international career, he will no doubt be involved with his national team for many years to come. If he can step up another level there is no doubt he could fill the gap left by Williams.