Andrew Bishop became only the fourth player in the history of the Ospreys to reach the landmark of 150 appearances at the weekend, joining Paul James, Jonathan Thomas and Sonny Parker in a select club.
The 26-year old centre has proven to be a reliable figure for the region since his debut against Borders at the Gnoll back in February 2005. He completed his century back in September 2009 against Leinster at the Liberty Stadium, with the 150th regional outing coming in Saturday’s south-west Wales derby clash against the Scarlets.
Speaking after his historic appearance, Bishop was understandably delighted to have reached the milestone:
“I’m very proud, obviously” he said.
“Whoever you are and wherever you are playing, to get to 150 is quite a big achievement. I’ve loved every minute of being an Osprey and I look forward to making as many more appearances as I can for the region in the future.
“Touch wood, I’ve always been quite fortunate with injuries, which means I’ve been able to make myself available for selection more often than not. If you can do that, as long as you can show consistency in your game and limit your mistakes then you’re in with a chance of playing and obviously, I’ve been fortunate enough to make selection. Hopefully, I can carry on that way.”
During his time as an Osprey, he has forced his way into the national squad with 15 Wales caps to date, and has three Celtic League winners medals to his name. However, he is in no doubt as to his Ospreys highlight, as he explained:
“I’ve been part of a team that has won leagues which is great, but I suppose the EDF Cup final against Leicester up at Twickenham has to be the best. I scored one of my few tries, and it was just a great occasion for the Ospreys, to beat England’s best team there in such a way was very pleasing. I enjoy every game I play for the Ospreys but that one stands out above all the others.”
Head Coach Sean Holley paid tribute to Bishop on reaching the landmark figure:
“In our short history Andrew has become only the fourth Osprey to reach the 150 mark, which is a clear indication of his valuable contribution to the cause since breaking into the team back in 2005. It’s a fantastic achievement for a young man who has faced up to a lot of international competition in his position, but has managed to remain pretty much ever-present.
“I’ve made no secret of the fact how valuable we consider him to this group of players. His consistency is second to none, he’s one of the best tacklers in the game, he understands our defensive system, and although he doesn’t say much, he really leads by his actions on the field. He’s strong, carries the ball well, reads the game allowing him to distribute well at vital times, as shown most efficiently in the 2010 Magners League Grand Final in Leinster.
“He’s a true Ospreylian, who displays all the values and virtues we are looking for in a player. He can be proud of reaching 150 caps, he’s in pretty special company as one of only four players to reach that figure to date, but knowing him as I do, I’ve no doubt that he will try to play down the achievement. He’s achieved an awful lot during his time with the region already but I hope that he will continue to serve his region for many years to come.”
Bishop will now be hoping that 151st Ospreys appearance will come in the Heineken Cup this Saturday, when French giants Biarritz come to the Liberty Stadium in this year’s tournament opener, and he says that he’s expecting it to be a great match:
“They’ve not had great results in the first part of the season but they’ve got a lot of internationals back now so it’s going to be a very tough game for us. We saw how good they are first hand in the quarters two seasons ago, but we matched them every step of the way. It’s definitely going to be an interesting game, something for players and fans to look forward to, and hopefully I’ll make the 23 on the day so that I can be involved in such a big match.”