Keelan Giles v Dragons 2020

Player Feature: Keelan Giles

The reaction of his teammates to Keelan Giles being named on the Ospreys bench tells you everything you need to know about the esteem and affection for the young wing.

When Giles was named on the Ospreys bench for the Welsh derby against the Dragons at Rodney Parade, back in January, the team room full of his teammates erupted in cheers and applause.

Keelan Giles
“I didn’t expect that reaction but it was something I really respected and cherished... it did mean a lot to me"

It marked the end of a long road back for the player, but was also an acknowledgement by this teammates, coaches and staff of how hard he had worked to get back to being named in the match day squad.

For Giles, 22, who had been sidelined for more than a year with a second knee injury, it was moment that surprised him but one he will never forget.

“I didn’t expect that reaction but it was something I really respected and cherished,” said Giles.

“It was a nice touch after being selected and it did mean a lot to me.

“It showed the boys support and how happy they were for me and my return. It was emotional, seeing their reaction and then it was all about focusing on the game.”

Keelan Giles Training 002

 

Giles came off the bench for a ten-minute cameo but showed enough to remind everyone of why he was regarded as one of the most exciting young talents in Welsh rugby.

The Wales U20s Grand Slam winner admits there were some nerves about finally getting back playing but the overwhelming feeling for him was one of excitement.

“It has been a long time, but weirdly there were some nerves about three days before the game, but game day I just wasn’t nervous,” said Giles.

Keelan Giles
"I remember driving back after the game and it was like a sigh of relief, a weight off my shoulders and couldn’t stop smiling when I got back home. It was just a good feeling to have finally played again.”

“That was odd because I was just excited to get back playing.  Excitement had taken over from the nerves and that was nice.  I was just bouncing and so ready to play.

“I only played ten minutes but I remember driving back after the game and it was like a sigh of relief, a weight off my shoulders and couldn’t stop smiling when I got back home. It was just a good feeling to have finally played again.”

Giles’ dedication and diligence about doing his rehab impressed everyone at the Ospreys, but it also revealed a real mental toughness and desire to get back on the field.

 

He is quick to praise the Ospreys medical and Strength and Conditioning teams for looking after him so well, and to the coaching team for not rushing him back too early.

“When you come back from a big injury, you want to be in amongst it, but sometimes it’s better to just take your time and listen to your body, the staff and the coaches,” said Giles.

“There was no pressure on to get back and the focus was to make sure I was ready to go when I was ready.   I just enjoyed being back training and being around the boys and the squad, doing what we do.”

Keelan Giles
“When you see how well the boys have played recently, you just now you have to up your game to challenge for a spot in the team."

While all Ospreys supporters and Welsh rugby fans will be delighted to see him back and revel in watching him strut his stuff in the black shirt again, Giles is under no illusions of the task ahead of him.

“The plan is now to challenge for a spot on the wing in the first team, all the injury worries are behind me and I just need to train well, prove myself and challenge for the shirt,” said Giles.

“We have had some great wingers here in the past and we have them now but I have never shied away from a challenge.  I think the competition for places here, which is now developing, is going to help us all.

“When you see how well the boys have played recently, you just know you have to up your game to challenge for a spot in the team.

“It’s exciting here now, everybody is working hard and pushing each other but there is a real closeness and togetherness here now. That is showing in the performances too.

“This group of players has been through quite a bit and now we are reaping the rewards of developing that tough mindset.”

Keelan Giles