The Ospreys Scottish international Nikki Walker has signed a new contract with the region until 2012.
Speaking today, Walker commented: "It was a very easy decision for me to make, particularly with things going so well this season. We are doing well in the Magners League and through to the last eight in Europe so it's an exciting time for the Ospreys, as far as the rugby side of things are concerned I didn't have to think too hard about signing a new contract. The coaching team is excellent, probably the best that I've ever played under, and I'm pleased that I'm going to get the opportunity to work with them for the next two seasons.
"I've been at the Ospreys for four years now and I'm really settled in the area with a young family. There are some great players in the squad that I enjoy working with, and not only are they great players, they are mates as well, which is important. There's an environment established here which I want to be a part of over the coming seasons as I really believe that we can achieve great things. There's nowhere else I'd want to be playing to be honest.
"The region really looked after me when I was out injured for six months last season. The medical team was fantastic for me, they gave me all the support I needed and managed to get me back onto the pitch quicker than expected which was great. That was something that I had to take into consideration, and it's good to be able to pay everybody back for that by committing myself to the Ospreys for another two years.
"In my time at the Ospreys we've won the Magners League and the EDF, and we've reached the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup for the last three seasons now, but in many ways given the quality that we have here and the ambitions, it could be said that we've actually underachieved. I definitely think that we are now in a position where we can progress further and really establish ourselves in Europe, hopefully this season, but if not, over the course of my new contract definitely."
A powerful runner who has earned a reputation as a deadly finisher, Walker has made 74 appearances for the region since his debut in a 17-11 win over Edinburgh in September 2006. With 26 tries to his credit, he is the second highest try scorer in the region's history, behind only Shane Williams and narrowly ahead of Sonny Parker (25) and Gavin Henson (24) with Lee Byrne three behind. This season, he has touched down seven times in 18 games, including a memorable double in the New Year's Day victory over Cardiff Blues at the Liberty Stadium.
Ospreys Head Coach, Sean Holley, added: "When we originally signed Nikki from Borders four years ago he we probably unknown in these parts, but in his time at the Ospreys he has been allowed to express himself on and off the field and has flourished in our environment. He brings something very different to the team from our other wingers; You don't get many six foot four, sixteen stone wingers, who can run as fast as he can! He's a proven try scorer, capable of hurting teams from anywhere on the field, and as such, is a huge asset to the Ospreys.
"After a lot of understandable interest from elsewhere, we are delighted that he sees his future at the Ospreys. He is happy here, is settled in the area with a young family, and he is enjoying his rugby so it makes sense for him to commit to a further two years. It's a great signing for the Ospreys. We do have some young wings coming through who have a bright future in the game, but Nikki is very much a 'here and now' player. He is one for the present who has been in great form, and will continue to do an excellent job for the Ospreys over the coming seasons while some of the younger talent continues to develop."
Nearly 40 players were involved in the first Wales Under 18 training session of the season. WRU National Performance Manager Gethin Watts is excited at the potential shown by the group and expects the Regional Under 18 Championship to hone their skills even further.