Walker to become first NWQ to reach Ospreys

Nikki Walker will become the 16th player to reach 100 caps for the Ospreys when he runs out for tonight's Magners League Welsh derby against Newport Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade.

29-year old Scotland Walker completes his century almost five years after signing for the region from Borders in the summer of 2006, becoming the first non-Welsh qualified player to reach 100 appearances in an Ospreys shirt.

His debut came as a second half replacement for Tal Selley against Edinburgh at the Liberty Stadium on the opening weekend of the 06/07 campaign, and he has gone on to establish himself as a deadly finisher with an eye for the tryline. In his time with the region he has been part of a squad that has twice won the Magners League, made two appearances at Twickenham in consecutive EDF Energy Cup Final’s against Leicester, scoring a try in the 2007 loss before the win the following the year, and also featured in the historic victory over Australia at the Liberty Stadium in 2006.

His 36 touchdowns for the Ospreys in all competitions, at a rate of a try every three games, is the second best total in the region’s history, with only Shane Williams above him in the list.

Speaking about reaching his 100 at the weekend, Walker said:

“It’s something I’m really proud of. With wingers of the quality of Shane Williams and Tommy Bowe here, and some really talented young players coming through, the Ospreys team is a difficult one to get into. To just play for the Ospreys is an achievement, to get 100 caps is something special.

“There’s a lot of competition for places in the squad so as a wing, I have to take the chances when I can. I’m in the team to score tries and I think I’ve got a decent enough record at doing that. I’m looking forward to hopefully scoring a few more for the Ospreys and hopefully scoring a lot more in the future.

“There’s been quite a few highlights along the way, definitely, and winning two Magners Leagues and the EDF obviously stand out as the main ones. Hopefully, there are a lot more highlights to come, I want to stay here for a long time yet.”

Ospreys Head Coach, Sean Holley, paid tribute to Walker on reaching 100 caps:

“It’s a fantastic achievement by Nikki to reach this landmark, for an international player to rack up so many appearances is hard work but he has been a real asset to the Ospreys. He plays a lot of games for us and does a lot of damage to the opposition, his stature and pace means he offers us something quite different to any other player in the squad and his try scoring ability is a real strength.

“When we signed him from Borders he was definitely under the radar down here, but we saw a lot of potential in him. We feel that we’ve certainly helped him take his game forward and he’s got his reward not only in plenty of game time with the Ospreys but some significant involvement with his national team as well.

“As the first non-Welsh qualified player to have reached 100 it’s an achievement that he can take real pride in.”

With the Dragons game the first of three games in as many weeks over the final run-in of the regular Magners League season, Walker says that the focus is on securing a play-off place:

“It’s an important time for us, we’ve got three games left to get into the play-offs. We’ll target winning all three and if we can do that, hopefully that can secure us a home game. We know what it feels like to win the league, and we want to do it again. The twice I’ve won it has been away from home so it would be great if we can do it in front of our own fans this time.”