Guinness Pro12: Walker can’t wait to get started after injury nightmare
Guinness Pro12: Ospreys winger Eli Walker is relishing the new season after returning from a hamstring injury
Ospreys winger Eli Walker is raring to go for the new Pro12 season after an injury ravaged 2013/14 but acknowledges he faces a tough task forcing his way back into Steve Tandy’s first XV.
The 22-year-old had been set for a first Wales cap against South Africa during last year’s Autumn internationals but injured his hamstring in training two days before the game.
I’m raring to go now. We’re eight weeks into our pre-season at the moment and the injury is holding up well
And his attempted return against Ulster rugby lasted barely 12 minutes before he broke down again and was forced to miss the remainder of the season.
It meant Walker was restricted to just seven league appearances, with Canadian Jeff Hassler and Fijian Aisea Natoga starring in his place in their debut seasons, scoring eight and five tries respectively.
And Walker revealed he had sought advice from Shane Williams in a bid to put his injury problems behind him.
“I’m not going to lie, I had a bit of a shocker with injuries last year,” Walker told the South Wales Evening Post.
“It was difficult, the South Africa game was going to be my first cap and it was a horrible thing to happen. But I’m quite strong minded. Yes, I was disappointed as soon as it happened, but you have to block it out of your mind.
“As for the injury against Ulster, I suppose it was better me knowing that my season was over and there was nothing to come back for. I was able to put my mind at rest and get ready for the season coming.
“When I first came in I was something like seventh choice wing with Shane, Nikki Walker, Tommy Bowe, Tom Prydie, Kristian Phillips and others here – I had to work my way up.
“Last year, Aisea and Jeff really picked the level up and you also have boys like Tom Grabham coming back and impressing in training. We are all pushing each other forward. It is not going to be easy to get back in.
“Shane had similar problems to me when he was about my age. I had a chat to him at the beginning of it all and he told me he had to change his running technique a bit.
“I sat down with a couple of specialists after that, they looked at footage of my running, broke it down and we have tweaked a few things to make it more efficient.
“I’m raring to go now. We’re eight weeks into our pre-season at the moment and the injury is holding up well. I’m getting through plenty of work and rehab with the physios, I just can’t wait to get out on the pitch.”