Ospreys winger Eli Walker ready to be unleashed on Six Nations
Last Updated: 28/01/13 3:07pm
Ospreys winger Eli Walker in action in Heineken Cup
The fact that the Ospreys were not too worried about losing Tommy Bowe and Shane Williams tells you quite a lot about Eli Walker.
Ireland and Lions superstar Bowe returned to Ulster last summer and Wales legend Williams retired - but waiting in the wings was a youngster who has taken Europe by storm this season.
Walker, 20, was a schoolboy athletics star who can run 100m in 10.8 seconds. In addition to natural pace, he has a brilliant side-step, and has a gliding style that is reminiscent of a young Jeremy Guscott.
Still in his first full season for the Ospreys, Walker was called up by Wales coach Rob Howley, for the first time, not as cover but as genuine competition for incumbents George North and Alex Cuthbert.
Walker's performances in the Heineken Cup have been particularly eye-opening. In the Ospreys' opener against Treviso, he beat four men with two outrageous sidesteps before scoring.
He is no flat-track bully - he was the stand-out player in matches against the giants of Leicester and Toulouse too.
His work-rate, defence and handling are all excellent, and he very rarely makes mistakes. But above all it is his ability to beat a man that sets him apart.
North and Cuthbert are both world class wings, but rely more on bulk and power. Walker, like his hero Williams, offers something a little different, and Wales fans are hoping he will be given a chance to show it in the Six Nations.