Gareth Owen will mark a half-century of appearances when he runs out against London Wasps at the Riverside Hardware Brewery Field in the final LV=Cup pool match on Sunday afternoon (KO 3.15pm).
Still only 22, Owen caught the eye playing for his hometown club in the Welsh Premiership as a teenager before signing for the Ospreys on a development contract.
He made his regional debut at the start of the 2007/08 season as a replacement in the 14-9 defeat to the Scarlets at the Liberty Stadium, two months ahead of his 19th birthday, and the same season saw him make a brief appearance off the bench in the EDF Energy Cup Final win over Leicester Tigers at Twickenham. In total, he has scored 86 points in his 49 appearances to date, including 9 tries.
Speaking about reaching his half century, Owen commented:
“Fifty games is a big landmark, it’s something we recognise at the Ospreys, so it’s a big achievement for me. It hasn’t been the smoothest if I’m honest with myself but hopefully now I can put together a good run of games and hopefully there’s another fifty to come.
“I’m still only 22 now, and my debut was three and half years ago. It seems quite a long time ago but in reality it’s not. I played at Bridgend for a couple of seasons and I almost call it my second home so it will be good to make the fifty there on Sunday, in front of my home crowd if you like. Hopefully, the local crowd will come out and support us like they did last time against Leicester.”
With almost half of his appearances to date having come off the bench, and having been selected to start right across the backline during his time with the region so far, Owen acknowledges that as he looks to move on from here, he has to cement a regular place in the team:
“We’ve got a lot of special players here and not everyone can play every week. There are international players in every position so it is tough to break into the team, which is how it should be. What this group of players is doing, is showing that we are capable of coming in and playing good rugby, we’ve had some good performances and some good results in this competition, and we need to keep that going on Sunday. If players like myself want to be a regular in the team, we have to.
“In reality, I’ve played quite a lot of rugby for the Ospreys already and I’m proud of that, I’m very privileged to have reached the fifty cap landmark while I’m still young, and hopefully I can achieve a lot more here.
“The next target for me has to be to nail down a regular spot in the starting line-up for big games, it has to be. I want to prove myself. Like any player I’ve got ambitions to play for Wales but I know that to do that I have to cement my place, a regular spot, to progress in my career really.”
Ospreys Head Coach, Sean Holley, paid tribute to Owen on reaching his half century of appearances:
“It’s certainly come around pretty quick, Gareth is still a young man so he can be proud of reaching the landmark so soon. A lot of his appearances have come off the bench, which is a sign of his versatility as a player. Maybe he hasn’t yet found a home, in terms of a position as yet, but he is still young enough to find that for himself.
“He burst on the scene at 10, catching the eye with a naivety about him where he would take on defences, but as defences have tightened up, he has found it more and more difficult to find that space. He’s been moved around, due to injuries that we’ve had here, but he continues to show glimpses of attacking brilliance. What he needs to do now, as he moves forward with the Ospreys is cement a position and find a level of consistency in his game. Gareth, along with the coaching team here, are working hard to find that.
“To reach 50 is a nice honour for him, but I’m sure now that he’ll want to push on and establish himself a lot more in the future.”