Eli Walker: Ospreys wing turns to yoga to solve injuries

By Nick WebbBBC Sport Wales
Eli Walker
Eli Walker won his one Wales cap to date in a 2015 World Cup warm-up match against Ireland

Ospreys wing Eli Walker has turned to yoga as he attempts to beat the series of hamstring problems that have plagued his career.

Once-capped Walker, 23, was denied both his Wales debut in 2013 and an initial World Cup place this year by injury.

"What's working for me in particular is yoga," Walker told BBC Wales Sport.

"I know it sounds quite strange, but yoga's helping me a lot in just stretching and strengthening in general."

Another Wales number 11 - Manchester United football great Ryan Giggs - credited yoga with prolonging his playing career in the Premier League, with the former national captain not retiring until he was 40.

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Walker was first picked to play for Wales against South Africa in November 2013, but was forced to withdraw because of a hamstring strain, with a recurrence in February 2014 sideling him for the rest of the season.

He eventually made his Wales debut in August 2015, in a World Cup warm-up match against Ireland.

Walker was called into the World Cup squad as a replacement for Leigh Halfpenny in September, only to get injured again in training.

Ryan Giggs
Former Wales football captain Ryan Giggs used yoga as part of his training regime and played for Manchester United until he was 40

The wing was subsequently recalled to the squad to be in contention for a potential semi-final match, only for Wales to exit the tournament before he regained full fitness.

"There were a lot of ups and downs," said Walker.

"But as I mature I've just got to take the onus on myself and look after my body better, just doing stuff that's right for me."

Walker says both Wales and the Ospreys have looked after him by reducing his training on days when the team does double sessions.

"Both camps have modified certain aspects of training, maybe not doing complete sessions, but as things go on my strength's coming on pretty decently," he said.

"It's just about picking and choosing the aspects I need to see off, and doing rehab by myself."

Walker is set to feature in the Ospreys' Champions Cup trip to the Stade Marcel-Michelin to face Clermont on Sunday, whose wings include ex-England player David Strettle and Fiji-born France international Noa Nakaitaci.

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