The Ospreys have paid tribute to skipper Alun Wyn Jones on the eve of his 200th appearance for the region, describing him as “one of the greatest”.
The big second row will become only the third Osprey ever to hit a double century of matches when he leads the team out against Leinster at the RDS on Friday night, just over 11 years on from his competitive debut, against the same opposition at the Liberty Stadium on the opening day of the 05/06 season.
Reflecting on Jones’ incredible record, Head Coach, Steve Tandy, paid tribute to the former Bonymaen and Swansea RFC player.
“It’s an unbelievable achievement” said Tandy, who played alongside Alun Wyn on his debut in September 2005.
“He’s only the third player to get to 200 and he’s in outstanding company. When you look at his record, having played more than 100 times for Wales, done two tours with the Lions, it shows what a professional he is, in everything he does.
“He is someone who is never satisfied with where he is, or with where the organisation is, he is always trying to raise standards further, pushing things forward. Regardless of all the things he has achieved in his career, he is always looking ahead, looking for the next challenge rather than sitting back to take the plaudits. That’s the last thing on his mind.
“The 300 plus first class games he’s got to his name says everything you need to know about Al. You don’t get that by chance, by luck. It’s about his approach to life, his approach to rugby. Like any player, he’s had his injuries along the way, but every single minute of the day he is doing the right thing, to look after himself. He’s not only relentless on the pitch, he’s just the same off it. It’s the off-field stuff that sets him up to achieve on it.
“He is an incredible role model for any player who comes into our environment. Not just youngsters but older players as well. He won’t expect anyone to do what he wouldn’t do himself and that’s an admirable characteristic that has helped make him not only one of the greatest Ospreys but one of the greatest Welsh players.”
Ospreys Chairman, Roger Blyth, echoed Tandy’s comments, saying:
“Alun Wyn has been, and continues to be, a tremendous servant for his home region. Coming through the ranks, it was clear that he was an individual with the character and ability to go a long way in the game and he has worn the white of Swansea, the black of the Ospreys, and the red of Wales and the Lions with great pride and honour.
“He has been a talisman for region and country throughout his career, a leader and an inspirational player whose determination and sheer will-to-win has been his trademark, along with his loyalty to the Ospreys and his pride in the jersey.
“In our short history there have already been many great players to have passed through our organisation. Alun Wyn is up there with the very best of them.”
Andrew Millward, another Ospreys original who, like Tandy, was in the starting XV on the day that Jones made his debut, and is now Managing Director of the region, added:
“What is there to say about Alun Wyn that hasn’t already been said?
“A fantastic player, a great captain, a true Osprey and a loyal friend, he is joining a very exclusive group of players this weekend with only Duncan Jones and Andrew Bishop having played 200 or more times for the region.
“He’s a very modest man who won’t want a fuss around the whole thing but it is only right that we take a moment to appreciate him, and the landmark he is celebrating this weekend. I’ve no doubt that our supporters will join us in congratulating him on reaching 200, and will also be looking forward to many more appearances and many more great moments for Alun Wyn in an Ospreys shirt.”
Tandy also recognised the pride that Jones has in being an Osprey, saying that the feeling is mutual:
“I remember him coming in as a chubby teenager along with Ian Evans and you could see then that he wasn’t someone unduly troubled by reputation. He wanted to come in and do his work without worrying about what anybody thought. He knew his own mind and that has stood him in good stead ever since.
“To this day he’s not worried about saying what he has to say, knowing that it is for the right reason. He puts the Ospreys first every time. He could have gone to any club in Europe but he has served his home region with real pride and we are proud to have him as one of ours.”