Planet Rugby

Walker pens new deal in Wales

15th February 2014 07:52

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Eli Walker try Ospreys v Treviso Heineken Cup

Prospect: Eli Walker

Highly-rated Ospreys winger Eli Walker has put pen to paper on a two-year deal that will keep him in Swansea til mid-2016.

A product of Gorseinon RFC, Walker played for the Ospreys at U16 and U18 level before making his senior debut as an 18-year old, coming off the bench in a Liberty Stadium win over Aironi in September 2010. Swiftly establishing himself as a crowd favourite thanks to his electric pace and eye for a gap, he has made 37 regional appearances to date, scoring 10 tries.

Having represented Wales at age-grade level, he has been selected in three senior national squads over the last year but is still waiting on his first cap.

21-year-old Walker is currently sidelined through injury after suffering a recurrence of a hamstring problem in last weekend's defeat in Ulster, his return to action after three months out.

"It's great news" said Walker after signing his new deal.

"Playing for the Ospreys was a goal that I had since I was playing schools rugby so to have achieved that makes it special. To be truthful, I wouldn't have liked to have had to go anywhere else so it's great that the coaches want me here. I've been a part of the region right through from age-grade and this is my home so I couldn't imagine playing for another region.

"The security is an important factor with all the uncertainty around rugby at the moment. This is definitely the right place for me to be in terms of my career and I'm really happy to have got it sorted.

"The main aim for the next couple of years has to be to stay fit. I've had some bad luck this season and not managed as much game-time as anyone would have hoped for, but experiences like this can help to make me stronger. I want to keep playing rugby for the Ospreys week-in, week-out and get some consistent performances under my belt. If I'm able to do that over the next two years, that should mean I'm kicking on and everybody will be happy."

"Eli is someone who has come through our development pathway in recent seasons and made a real impact in the senior team, so we are delighted to have secured his services for the next two years," said Rugby Operations manager Andy Lloyd.

"He was always something of a precocious talent but we've seen him grow and develop on and off the field over the last 18 months to two years. He has had his injury frustrations, something which isn't uncommon in young wingers, but he keeps maturing as a person and developing his understanding of the game.

"We are hopeful that once we get him through his current frustrations we'll see his physical attributes come to the fore, while pushing his rugby onwards and upwards, enabling him to reach his undoubted potential. Supporters have seen what he can do with ball in hand and have really warmed to him as as a player and an individual, so they will share our excitement that we have been able to keep such another local talent at the region.

"This is more good news for the region, following on from recent announcements of new contracts for Alun Wyn Jones and Ashley Beck and the signing of Dan Evans, Sam Parry and Josh Matavesi, as we pull together an exciting young team that the region can be proud of."

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