Eli Walker marked his first taste of action of the summer last Friday with two tries in the Ospreys game against Leicester and he says he’s excited about the challenges of the new season.
- Winger scored two second half tries in Friday night's narrow loss at Welford Road
- Seven tries in 18 games last season was the best yet for the 24-year old
- Now has 21 tries from 72 Ospreys appearances, putting him joint 10th on the all-time list with Ashley Beck
Having headed down to New Zealand with the Wales squad in June, the winger has made a delayed return to action, but the watching brief over the first two weekends of pre-season action has given him a first hand glimpse of some of the exciting young Ospreys talent coming through and he says it’s going to be a challenge just to get a starting berth with so many options available to the coaches.
“It’s been a while, a long summer, and it was really exciting to put that jersey on again” said the Gorseinon flier.
“There’s real strength in depth developing on the wing now, probably more than we’ve for a few seasons, and it’s going to take a lot of hard work and effort to get the starting jersey. That’s something which will push us all on.
“With people like Luke Price, Keelan Giles and Joe Thomas coming on, it was brilliant to see. It can only be a positive for the Ospreys, with youngsters bringing real energy to training and we can bounce off each other every day. They have ambition to become full Ospreys, they will be pushing hard and it means there can’t be anybody taking their place for granted as there is plenty of talent coming through.”
As for his own contribution to what proved to be an entertaining, end to end contest with both sides scoring six tries, Walker, who scored a career best seven last season, from 18 games, was just pleased to be out there once again.
“The game was breaking up a bit in the second half so it was good to involved and get the ball in hand out there” continued Walker.
“Pre-season has been tough, as it should be, but all players want to be involved when the matches come around so I was pleased to be on the pitch again.
“The mood is really good to be fair. All our internationals are back in now after some had an extended break, but you’ve got to give credit to the boys who have been here all summer, really pushing on and raising standard even higher.
“With the new defensive system that Brad (Davis) has brought in, the boys have really bought into it and it’s been good to see that the senior international boys are having to learn from the younger ones who have been here since day one of pre-season. That’s a good sign and it means that the group is together and not relying on one or two key players to drive standards.
“We’re in a good place for this stage of the summer and really looking forward to kicking off against Zebre on Friday night.”
Tickets for Friday night’s Guinness PRO12 opener are on sale now at this link.