Wales great Alun Wyn Jones says it is an “honour and privilege” to make yet more rugby union history by becoming the first player to win 150 caps for a single country.
Jones, already the world’s most-capped player with 161 appearances, including 12 for the British & Irish Lions, is set to reach the new landmark after being named in the Wales starting XV to play Italy in the Six Nations in Cardiff on Saturday.
It will be the 36-year-old lock’s first appearance for more than four months after he underwent two operations following a shoulder injury during Wales’ 54-16 loss at home to New Zealand in October.
Jones surpassed former New Zealand captain Richie McCaw’s previous world record of 148 international appearances against Scotland in October 2020. That delayed Six Nations match was played behind closed doors at Llanelli’s Parc y Scarlets because of the coronavirus pandemic.
By contrast, a crowd of more than 60,000 are expected at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium for what will be Wales’ last match of the 2022 Six Nations.
“To be the first to do anything is an honour and a privilege,” Jones said, in a video released by the Welsh Rugby Union on Friday. “But I think to do it for Wales and to pull this jersey on as many times as I have isn’t wasted on me, particularly when you realise what rugby means to the nation.
“I’ve got people here that saw me come into this squad as not far off being a child, and now they are going to see me taking my children out for 150 appearances.
“Obviously, my family couldn’t come when I did the world record at Parc y Scarlets in the Nations Cup. To have my family there [on Saturday] and my wife and daughters is huge for me.”
Wales, however, have just enjoyed one victory, over Scotland, in four Six Nations matches so far this season and Jones, typically, added: “The weekend will mean nothing if we don’t get the win.”
Jones, as he did following a shoulder injury ahead of last year’s Lions tour of South Africa, has returned earlier than expected after it was initially forecast he would play no part in this Six Nations.
“We formulated a plan pretty quickly, within two weeks post the New Zealand game,” he said. “A couple of surgeries were required, not just due to injuries sustained in the summer, but beyond that. I was given a target pretty early on to work to, and that was the plan rolling forward.”
© Agence France-Presse