Walker v Walker: ex-team-mates ready for wing battle at Liberty
ELI Walker will come face to face tonight with the flying Scot who has only Shane Williams above him in the Ospreys' all-time try chart.
Nikki Walker will feature on the right wing for Edinburgh in the Pro12 clash at the Liberty (6.30.
The 31-year-old from Aberdeen scored 37 tries during five seasons at the Ospreys, an excellent record bettered just by Williams (57) in the black jersey.
It will be an intriguing tussle for two players whose paths first crossed when Eli Walker was part of the Ospreys' age-grade section.
"I remember coming through the academy and Nikki was there along with Tommy Bowe and Shane," recalled Eli Walker.
"I looked up to all three of them. They all had different styles, so it was a question of watching them and seeing what I could learn.
"Nikki's a good player who scores a lot of tries, but, hopefully, I've developed over the past few years as well."
What the Ospreys youngster brings is searing pace that can trouble even the most organised defence.
Leinster encountered it last week when the 21-year-old surged clear twice to help set up both his side's tries in the 29-29 draw at the RDS.
Tonight, the contrast in styles out wide could not be more marked, with the relatively light brigade of Eli Walker (13st 1lb) and Jeff Hassler (12st 12lb) lining up against two behemoths in Nikki Walker (6ft 5in and 16st 11lb) and Tim Visser (6ft 4in and 17st 4lb).
"You try to blank the size of your opponent," said Eli Walker.
"But I'd probably prefer to come up against a bigger player who runs straight rather than a smaller guy, like Shane or Christian Wade, who has a step.
"Don't get me wrong: you can get some powerful runners who are great finishers in their own right, but I'd rather tackle them rather than a guy with a step or a jink, who has that one extra thing to think about.
"That said, I have huge respect for Nikki, who's a really good player."
Walker continued: "I don't think you can teach a step. It's something that either comes naturally or not at all. I don't know if people would say I have one. You can call it what you like. I just pick my head up, see where the space is and attack it."
Edinburgh will arrive in Swansea with their scrum attracting plaudits after the demolition of the Dragons last weekend, but they also have several dangerous backs who will need to be closely marked.
"I thought our defence was really good at times in Leinster," added Walker.
"Andrew Bishop put in 19 tackles but that's pretty standard for him.
"He's an outstanding defender, someone who's been great in defence for a long time and rarely misses a hit. He hasn't won the most Ospreys caps for nothing and it's great to have someone like that playing alongside you.
"It makes my job a lot easier and the jobs of the other boys easier as well."
The Ospreys have named four of their Lions in their starting line-up.
Adam Jones and Richard Hibbard appear in the front row, with Ian Evans and skipper Alun Wyn Jones teaming up at lock.
Justin Tipuric, the fifth Osprey on the triumphant tour of Australia in the summer, is named on the bench. Wing Jeff Hassler makes his first regional start, while Aisea Natoga will make his Ospreys debut if he comes off the bench.
Ospreys: R. Fussell; J. Hassler, A. Bishop, A. Beck, E. Walker; D. Biggar, T. Tebaldi; D. Jones, R. Hibbard, A. Jones, A. W. Jones (capt), I. Evans, T. Smith, M. Allen, S.Lewis. Reps: S. Baldwin, R. Bevington, J. Rees, T. Ardron, J. Tipuric, T. Grabham, M. Morgan, A. Natoga.