Nikki Walker is hoping to reproduce some of the club form which he has been producing for the high-flying Ospreys for Scotland against France in the RBS 6 Nations on Sunday.
The big winger was first capped back in 2002, but despite being there or thereabouts for the last six years he has not yet managed to nail down a regular place in the Scotland squad, and Sunday’s match at Murrayfield will be only his 11th international appearance.
He accepts that this is more to do with his own failure to grasp the opportunities he has been given, rather than any oversight at selection level.
“I have been about the squad for a long time but I don’t feel that I have played that well when I have been given a chance, so I am just looking to transfer my club form into the international game,” said Walker.
“Most of the games I have been involved in have been tough ones – like South Africa, New Zealand and France – so I have not had much opportunity to shine. But that is my problem, not anybody else’s.
“When you are a winger and your team is on the back foot against some of the best teams in the world you have to have a really, really good game to get noticed, and I haven’t done that.
“If I want to make it at international rugby, then that is what I have to start doing – but it is tough.
“Hopefully playing at home against France is going to give me an opportunity to show what I can do. With any luck the game will open up a lot more so I am looking forward to it, and I aim to take every opportunity which comes my way.”
Walker is one of 14 Ospreys players involved in this weekend’s action. Thirteen of his team-mates will start for Wales against England on Saturday, and Walker admits to being relieved at not missing out on international recognition.
“I would be wondering what I was doing wrong if I wasn’t playing and I’m sure I would get a lot of stick from the boys if I wasn’t,” he said.
“Obviously the Ospreys are going well in Europe - we are through to the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup and that is as close as you can get to a national stage, so that will have helped my selection.
“I spoke to some of the Ospreys boys in the Welsh team on Tuesday night – Mike Phillips, Lee Byrne and James Hook – and I think they were surprised but not totally shocked at how many Ospreys players were in the Welsh team because we have all been playing well. I’m sure that they will put in a good performance at the weekend.
“I will be watching and supporting them, because they are friends of mine, but obviously I will be concentrating on the match on Sunday.”
Scotland will start the match with one of their most experienced players, Chris Paterson, on the bench.
Experienced and versatile back-rower Allister Hogg has been left out of the squad altogether, while John Barclay, Dave Callam and captain Jason White have been preferred in the starting line-up. Kelly Brown has been asked to provide that breakaway unit with cover from the bench.