Wales v Ireland: Wing Eli Walker set to fulfil ambition

Eli Walker in training with Wales
Eli Walker was a member of Wales U-20s team in 2012 in South Africa
Rugby World Cup warm-up: Wales v Ireland
Venue: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff Kick-off: 14:30 BST, 8 August
Coverage: Live on BBC One Wales, iPlayer, the BBC Sport website, Radio Wales and Radio Cymru

Eli Walker says winning a first cap is the biggest thing on his mind ahead of Wales' World Cup warm-up match with Ireland in Cardiff.

The Ospreys wing was picked against South Africa in November 2013 but a hamstring injury ruled him out.

Even with World Cup places on the line, the 23-year-old says just playing is his first aim.

"It's tough, but it's probably a bigger aspect that it's my first cap as well, so there's a lot of pressure," he said.

"But I quite like to relish that. It's going to be a packed-out stadium and every rugby player relishes playing for their country."

Coach Warren Gatland will reduce his squad from 46 to "36 or 38" next week after a training camp in north Wales.

The New Zealander says World Cup places are up for grabs after picking four uncapped players in his starting line-up against Ireland.

They play the Irish again in Dublin on 29 August before the final 31-man squad is named on 31 August.

Wales open their World Cup campaign against Uruguay at the Millennium Stadium on 20 September before playing England, Fiji and Australia.

Wales first caps

Walker says he is excited to get another chance to represent his country after a series of injuries hampered his return to the game.

"I've spoken about it quite a lot," he added.

"It's probably best not to go through stuff like that before a game like this. I try to shut it out as much as I can. But it was disappointing.

"I have a second chance now and, hopefully, I'll grasp it with two hands.

"Throughout the autumn and the Six Nations there are spots up for grabs, and the coaches aren't shy in saying that."

Wales have some injury concerns in the back three with Liam Williams recovering from a foot injury and unlikely to figure in any of the the warm-up matches.

And Walker's chance comes because British and Irish Lions wing George North has been left out.

He missed the final 10 weeks of last season with concussion, but could return when the two sides meet again in Dublin.

Hallam Amos - playing at full-back against Ireland - plays his regional rugby on the wing while Alex Cuthbert, another Lions Test player, starts on the other wing.

"We have world-class players in all three back-three positions, so it's going to be tough," said Walker.

"Gats (Warren Gatland) has said earlier in the week that this is the type of game where players have to perform and put their hands up for selection.

"I think it's literally all on the game. The boys have been training very hard."

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