Wales great Jones sets new Test appearance record
Llanelli (United Kingdom) (AFP) –
Alun Wyn Jones became the most-capped player in rugby union history when he led Wales out in their Six Nations international against Scotland at Llanelli on Saturday.
Wales captain Jones was appearing in his 149th Test, a tally that includes nine internationals for the British and Irish Lions.
The 35-year-old lock has taken sole possession of a record he had shared with 148-times capped retired New Zealand World Cup-winning captain Richie McCaw.
It is a testament to the endurance of both Jones and former flanker McCaw that they have played so many Tests while carrying out physically demanding roles in the pack.
Swansea-born Jones made his debut away to Argentina in Puerto Madryn back in June 2006.
He has since won three Six Nations Grand Slams with Wales and represented the Lions on three tours.
But the second-row played down his achievement on Friday, saying: "I have been fortunate to have the opportunity.
"I am just conscious who I do it for, what I do it for, and where I am from, and I will treat Saturday in the same vein."
Asked about the extra attention that had comes his way this week, Jones said: "I'm slightly uncomfortable with it and I don't particularly like it. It does feel like a sideshow to be honest.
"I want to get out and play, get the performance we need. I am hugely flattered, but ultimately it is words and the game will move on next week and that'll be that focus," he added, with Wales bidding to end a run of four successive losses by beating Scotland in their coronavirus-delayed finale to this year's Six Nations.
Wales coach Wayne Pivac paid tribute to Jones after naming his team on Thursday by saying: "He not only leads by example in the games but in training, he's magnificent in the way he carries himself."
The New Zealander added that Jones was in such good shape there was "no reason" he will not play in a fifth World Cup in 2023 in France.
Meanwhile Warren Gatland, the former Wales turned Lions coach, said this week that there was no telling where Jones would take the appearance record before he eventually retired.
"He's going to set the bar incredibly high. How long can he go on for? Maybe another 10 or 20 caps."
© 2020 AFP