Alun Wyn Jones will become the latest member of an exclusive club when he makes his 100th appearance for the Ospreys in Friday night's Magners League play-off against Glasgow at the Liberty Stadium (KO 7.05pm).
A former winner of Swansea RFC's Young Player of the Year award, the 24-year old has racked up his century in under five years since he made his debut two weeks before his 20th birthday as a replacement in the opening game of the 05/06 at the Liberty Stadium, a 22-20 win over Leinster. He pretty rapidly established himself as a first choice in the second row, with 15 appearances for the region in that first season, and has been a mainstay of the Ospreys squad ever since. He has scored seven tries in an Ospreys shirt, the most memorable of which came at Twickenham in the 23-6 win over Leicester Tigers in the 2008 EDF Energy Cup Final when he powered over from close range to put the seal on the historic win.
An influential figure on and off the field, Jones has gone on to establish himself as one of world rugby's leading second rows. His form in his first season with the Ospreys saw him elevated to the Welsh squad pretty rapidly, with his first international cap coming less than a year later on the 2006 summer tour to Argentina. A Grand Slam winner in 2008, he has gone on to earn 40 Welsh caps, scoring four tries, and was handed the honour of captaining his country for the Six Nations game in Rome against Italy in 2009. That summer he was named in the British & Irish Lions squad for the summer tour of South Africa, featuring in all three test matches.
A month younger than centre Andrew Bishop, he becomes the youngest player to reach the 100 cap landmark for the Ospreys.
Alun Wyn Jones commented:
"I'm honoured to have been able to have played so many times for the Ospreys, it's a privilege to be in the company of some great players who have already passed 100 caps for the region. As a kid growing up I always dreamt of playing for Swansea, which I was fortunate enough to be able to do, but representing the wider region for the Ospreys means a whole lot more.
"There are plenty of memories and high points from my first five years as an Osprey, but I don't want to look back. I'm only interesting in looking forward to be honest. There are lots of things that I still want to achieve in my career, and lots of things that the Ospreys still want to achieve and that is what matters. I'm still young, and although you never know what is in store for you as a professional rugby player, I'd like to think that I'll be around with the Ospreys for a while yet. I wouldn't want to play rugby anywhere else, I've got no reason to want to move on, so hopefully, there are plenty of landmarks and high points still to come for me personally and for the Ospreys.
"To reach the century is a landmark, and for me personally, it makes the semi-final against Glasgow a bigger occasion than it is anyway, but I'd much rather end the season on 101 appearances as Magners League champions than to finish the year on 100."
Ospreys Head Coach, Sean Holley, paid tribute to Jones for reaching the century mark:
"I'd like to offer congratulations to Alun Wyn on behalf of everyone at the Ospreys. 100 Ospreys caps is a fine achievement at his young age and puts him in special company. Since he first came along to our environment it was evident that he would be destined for great things. Alun Wyn's physical stature and energy are second to none in the squad. He is a true professional who is dedicated to his team's cause as well as his personal ambition. To have achieved everything he has already in such a short space of time is testimony to him and his family.
"His versatility has helped him to achieve the century so soon, in that he has played at 4,5 and 6 for the Ospreys. He has developed his game, his ball carrying and distribution in particular, to compliment his obvious abilities at the set piece. Alun Wyn's intelligence and individual drive are what makes him stand out.
"The next step as far as an Alun Wyn as an Osprey is concerned is to become the true leader and lineout specialist his potential promises. We are very proud of him and will continue to do our best to support and develop him in what will be a long and illustrious career. MFL AWJ !!"
As the twelfth Ospreys centurion, Alun Wyn follows on from Barry Williams, Shaun Connor, Paul James, Duncan Jones, Adam Jones, Jonathan Thomas, Sonny Parker, Shane Williams, Andrew Bishop, Steve Tandy and Huw Bennett.