Eli's flying form helps make up for time on the sidelines
HAVING been forced to sit out the opening two months of the season, Eli Walker is rapidly making up for lost time.
The 20-year-old wing has been in dazzling form in recent weeks, scoring a stunning solo try in the Heineken Cup win over Treviso and then lighting up the Liberty again on the weekend with a man-of-the-match display against Connacht.
Walker crossed for his side's first try and produced some scintillating runs from deep as the defending champions made it four wins from four in the RaboDirect Pro12 to move into sixth spot in the league table.
And the Wales Under-20s speedster, who underwent shoulder surgery in the summer, is looking to maintain his free-running streak when Heineken Cup champions Leinster arrive in Swansea on Sunday.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, May 26 2013
"I'm just really happy to get game time at the moment, just to get out onto the pitch in an Ospreys shirt," said Walker.
"It was disappointing to have that injury and to miss the start of the season, but if I'm honest it can be used as a positive in some ways.
"I know it's hard to take being injured at any time but after the under-20s World Cup in the summer it allowed me to come back fresh with all guns blazing.
"I got a chance to stretch my legs a few times against Connacht and that was down to the way we tried to play, putting their guys under pressure so they kick back at us.
"I really enjoyed it and to pick up my first man of the match is something special."
Like Walker, the Ospreys are also playing catch-up following a spluttering start to their Pro12 defence that saw them lose their opening three matches — including home ties to current leaders Ulster and fellow play-off chasers Glasgow.
The stirring derby triumph over the Scarlets in Llanelli provided the catalyst for an upturn in fortunes and wins over Munster, Zebre and a typically dogged Connacht have pushed them to within sight of the all-important play-off places.
Of course, the Ospreys will have to maintain their challenge without ten players currently in Poland with Rob Howley's national training squad.
But Walker believes the coming month provides an opportunity for the next crop of emerging talent to showcase their potential, both in the Pro12 and the Anglo-Welsh LV= Cup.
"It's an exciting time," he said. "It always is at this time of the year when the boys get the chance to prove themselves, youngsters like me get to step up to senior level and test ourselves.
"There's a few boys, people like Luke Morgan and Ross Jones, who are keen to get a start and there's no doubt in my mind that they'll get an opportunity during November and will really prove themselves."
As well as missing their Wales internationals, the Ospreys will also be without scrum-half Kahn Fotuali'i for three weeks in November after he was named in Samoa's squad for their northern hemisphere tour.
The former Crusaders star will be available for the Leinster game before he links up with the Islanders ahead of a three-day training camp in London.
Back-rower George Stowers, a mainstay of Samoa's World Cup campaign, is not involved after he failed to make the squad.
Samoa take on Canada at Colwyn Bay on Friday, November 9, before their Test with Wales in Cardiff a week later. They finish off against France in Paris.
Leinster too will be decimated by international calls with hooker Sean Cronin and new prop signing Michael Bent the latest additions to Declan Kidney's squad.
Kiwi Bent, who is Irish qualified, has been playing in the New Zealand ITM Cup along with another of Leinster's new signings, fly-half Andrew Goodman. Both could be involved at the Liberty.