At 1.98m tall and 122kg, Alun Wyn Jones is not someone who can easily go unnoticed.

The shy – but not yet retiring – second-row would prefer it to be different, but as one of Welsh rugby’s finest warriors, fame is something he has had to get used to.

And this weekend at Parc y Scarlets in Llanelli, Jones will find it impossible to shy away from the limelight whether he likes it or not.

Fourteen years on from his debut in Argentina, the 35-year-old will become the most-capped player in test history when he leads out Wales out in their rearranged Six Nations encounter with Scotland at Parc y Scarlets.

Jones is set to play in his 149th test, a tally that includes nine caps for the Lions, and in doing so will eclipse All Blacks great and World Rugby Hall of Fame inductee Richie McCaw for appearances at this level.

“It does feel a bit like a side-show if I am being honest,” he said referring to all the media attention around his record-breaking achievement.

“I am hugely flattered but ultimately it’s words, and the game will move on next week and that’ll be that focus. 

“I just want to go out there and play and get a performance that we need.

“We’ve got Saturday to deal with first and then we’ll see where the emotions are after it.”

Fame game

Of more concern to Jones will be righting the wrongs of Wales’ 38-21 defeat to France in Paris last Saturday – their fourth defeat in a row.

“I play rugby to win games, not to be famous. All that fame stuff, I don’t mind it, but I don’t understand it to a point because, essentially, I just have a job like everyone else,” he said in an interview with Rugby Journal.

Jones’ job ever since he first pulled on a red jersey and made his Wales debut in 2006 has been to win lineouts, hit rucks and lead by example. Nothing flash, but that suits the father-of-two down to the ground.

For him, Saturday’s match is just another game where he will give his all for the cause.

“For me, I think you’re only as good as your next one (match), not your last one. I’m just conscious of who I do it for, what I do it for and where I am from, and I’ll treat Saturday in the same vein.”

Privileged position

While personal milestones may not mean much to an ultimate team man like Jones, his competitive drive is as strong as it ever was.

“It’s comparative to any job, whether you are a sportswriter, a carpenter or plumber. You do x amount of years and columns and then stop; you do so many kitchens and then stop; you do so many bathrooms and stop,” he said, getting straight to the point as ever.

“For me, there is not a handbook or a rule book. There’s obviously a lot of voices and opinions but, ultimately, it is a job I am very fortunate to do.

“I’ve got fewer years ahead than I have behind but that’s why I am savouring it, that’s why I’ve still got the hunger.”

Wales’ regular captain since 2017, Jones has played in four Rugby World Cups, won four Six Nations titles, including three Grand Slams, and led the Lions to victory in the series decider against Australia in 2013.

As one of rugby’s fiercest competitors, though, it is the near-misses, such as the Rugby World Cup 2011 semi-final defeat to France, that he remembers the most.

“Having watched the final as well, that was a big opportunity for us. Did France play their final against us to get there? It’s all hindsight now...”

Cherished moment

While Jones will shortly be standing alone on 149 caps, the Lion-hearted man from the Mumbles insists he was just happy to get one cap all those years ago in the small Argentinean coastal resort of Puerto Madryn.

“Back in the day, we didn’t have a cap number on the jersey. I still cherish the fact that you become part of something special with the simple blow of a whistle. 

“I do cherish it because whether it was one (cap) or a few more, it’s still a great occasion for myself and my family.

“I still enjoy it as much as ever and, hopefully, the experiences I have had have improved me as a professional.”

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