Steve Tandy has led the tributes to a “real warrior” after Paul James became just the fourth player to achieve a double century of appearances for the Ospreys.
- Tandy: "He was a great team-mate and friend when I was a player and he continues to be a great Osprey.”
- Millward: "Paul leads by his actions, literally from the front"
- Blyth: “Every squad needs someone like Paul"
The evergreen prop, the only remaining ‘original’ in the squad, reached 200 appearances when he came off the bench in last night’s big win over Cardiff Blues, 13 years after his debut as a 21-year, in the Ospreys’ first-ever competitive fixture, at the Gnoll against Ulster in September in 2003, having come through the ranks at Neath.
Ospreys Head Coach, Steve Tandy, was one of James’ team-mates, both at Neath and then the Ospreys following their inception, and he hailed ‘Assey’ as a “durable character” and a ‘”true Osprey”.
“I’m really proud to be able to offer a very good friend a huge, well deserved congratulations on what is an unbelievable achievement” said Tandy.
“He’s an incredibly durable character, tough, hard nosed and a real warrior. When you look at his career he has been remarkably consistent. For many years he was competing with Duncan Jones for the loose head spot and he spent three years with Bath, playing more than 50 times, making this achievement even more significant. If those games had been played in an Ospreys shirt he would have been well in front of anyone at the top of the list.
“He’s a natural leader who has thrived in this environment. It’s fair to say that he was probably an unsung hero for a long time and didn’t get the credit he was due outside of the Ospreys.
“That’s definitely not the case now that he is established as one of the best, and a regular for Wales for a number years. I know that he’s someone who avoids the limelight but it’s important to acknowledge such a huge achievement. He was a great team-mate and friend when I was a player and he continues to be a great Osprey.”
Ospreys Managing Director, Andrew Millward, packed down alongside James in that very first regional fixture, the duo featuring together in the front row on many occasions over the years, and he joined Tandy in acknowledging the landmark:
“It’s important that you have leaders in a squad with different attributes. Paul leads by his actions, literally from the front. As uncompromising as he is tough, he’s someone you want alongside you at the sharp end when the going gets tough. I know from experience that he thrives on a physical challenge and will never, ever, take a backward step. That can have a huge effect on those around him.
“That side of his character is well documented, but we should also give credit to him for how he has worked hard to improve as a rugby player over the years. I think that’s key, in terms of his position as a role model, as he has shown that even as a senior player and international, he is never happy to settle for what he’s got. He will always strive to be better, an important message to everyone at the Ospreys.
“I hope he enjoyed his 200th appearance and look forward to many more.”
Roger Blyth, Ospreys Chairman, added:
“Every squad needs someone like Paul, a real character, who works as hard behind the scenes as he does on the field on a match day and expects the same of those around him.
“Growing up at the Ospreys he possibly didn’t got the credit he deserved as a youngster, playing in the shadows of some better known props, but that would never have bothered him as he just wants to play rugby.
“He takes great pride in being an Osprey, just as was we are immensely proud of him and join him in celebrating his 200th appearance.”TAKE A LOOK BACK AT PAUL'S OSPREYS CAREER