London - Wales fullback Leigh Halfpenny has revealed it was a "huge surprise" to learn he was no longer part of Toulon's plans earlier this year.
Halfpenny was preparing for British and Irish Lions duty in June when he was told French club Toulon were willing to part ways with him.
The 28-year-old had spent three seasons with Toulon after joining them from Cardiff Blues in 2014 and believed he had agreed a new deal having negotiated his release for the Lions tour to New Zealand.
Instead, Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal said Halfpenny's contract would not be renewed because of the amount of time he spent away on international duty.
Halfpenny missed the Top 14 final, which Toulon lost to Clermont, because he was with the Lions.
Having now joined Pro 12 champions Scarlets, Halfpenny wasn't shy about expressing his surprise at the turn of events.
"I won't lie, it was tough. It was a huge surprise," he said on Tuesday.
"I had agreed a long time ago to stay at Toulon for one more season, but for whatever reason there was delays.
"Before the Top 14 semi-final everything had got agreed and it was just a case of signing the contract, but it never came through.
"Then, I found out in New Zealand that there wasn't an option for me. It has been extremely tough.
"It was tough having to watch the final and not be there, of course, but you are on a Lions tour and that is so special.
"I wanted to give that everything, I still focused on the tour, but the speculation and everything that came with it, was tough to deal with."