AS incentives go, there could be few as big as the chance to play alongside one of the world’s hottest footballing properties.

If Rhoys Wiggins was still looking for inspiration to retain his place in the Wales squad, it came in the shape of a dazzling 180 minutes of Champions League action.

The Cherries defender got his first taste of the senior international scene when he was drafted into Brian Flynn’s squad for the Euro 2012 qualifier in Switzerland last month.

Although he did not make it on to the bench, Wiggins couldn’t help but learn from the experience, not least because one of his colleagues was Gareth Bale.

Since then, the Tottenham Hotspur star has become British football’s most-talked-about player.

Having outclassed Brazilian right-back Maicon – not once, but twice – the plaudits flooded in and the potential price tag rose to £50million.

For some, the rapid progression of the former Saints youngster might have come as a surprise, but Wiggins knew all about the talents possessed by Bale, having linked up with him for Wales under-19s.

“He’s always been a good player, technically, and I think he’s progressed and it’s full credit to him,” said the Cherries star. “I think he’s worked hard. He’s had a few injuries as well down the line and he’s come back stronger.”

Wiggins was an interested spectator as Bale helped dismantle Inter Milan and revealed he had chatted to him about the prospect of facing World Cup star Maicon.

“When I went away last time he was there and I asked him about how he was feeling about the San Siro,” said Wiggins. “His first reaction was to talk about Maicon and how hard it was going to be against him.

“I don’t think he expected to do as well as he did against him but full credit to Gareth. He just showed what a good player he is, and against the top players like Maicon as well.”

Bale bagged a memorable hat-trick at the home of the reigning European champions before helping Spurs to a famous win at White Hart Lane last week.

Wiggins said: “They were great finishes. He’s got that in the locker. His left foot is unbelievable and he’s got a great technique.

“I watched the home game as well and he looked a very good player and you can see why he’s getting the publicity he’s getting now and the potential moves that are surrounding him.

“I can’t speak highly enough of him. He’s done a fantastic job. It didn’t go too well for him at Spurs at the start but he dug in there and showed what can happen if you stick to it and work hard.”

With transfer fees continuing to hit new levels in the upper echelons, prices rising to £50million have been mooted for Bale, although Spurs insist they have no wish to cash in.

And while Wiggins has been highly impressed by Bale’s progress, it could cause him a problem as he bids to find a way into the left side of the Welsh team.

But the Cherries left-back added: “He’s sort of gone to left midfield now, so that’s lucky for me!”