Previous winners include Bradley Wiggins, David Beckham, Sir Bobby Moore, Lord Coe, Sir Ian Botham and Jonny Wilkinson OBE.
Halfpenny said: "It's incredibly hard to explain my excitement at being nominated for BBC SPOTY 2013. This year has been what can only be described as a dream come true for me. Rugby has been my absolute passion since I was very young so to be recognised for my achievements in this manner is truly overwhelming.
"To be named alongside people I regard as sporting legends seems completely surreal and incredibly humbling. Whilst I always dreamed of representing my country and the British & Irish Lions I still can't believe I am where I am today."
Jonny Wilkinson, England rugby legend and SPOTY 2003 winner added: "Leigh has had a sensational year so it's great to see that he has made the shortlist for BBC Sports Personality of the Year. He has proved he is one of the best rugby players in the world so his nomination is thoroughly deserved and I wish him all the best."
The nominees will compete for the public vote on the night during the live show, which is presented by Gary Lineker, Clare Balding and Gabby Logan on BBC One, Sunday 15 December at 7.40pm.
For more details on voting terms and conditions, see www.bbc.co.uk/sportspersonality