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Page last updated at 08:05 GMT, Thursday, 10 March 2011

Six Nations: Ryan Jones proud of Wales 50-cap landmark

Six Nations: WALES v IRELAND
Venue: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff Date: Sat, 12 March Kick-off: 1700 GMT
Coverage: Watch live on BBC One Wales, BBC One HD and online from 1635-1900; Listen on BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru & BBC Radio 5 Live; Text commentary on BBC Sport website and mobiles

Ryan Jones
Jones made his Wales debut against South Africa in November 2004

Ryan Jones will reach the 50 cap mark in Wales' Six Nations game with Ireland on Saturday - but the back-rower admits he doubted ever reaching the milestone.

The ex-captain made his international bow in 2004 but injury and loss of form have prevented further Wales caps.

Jones' Ospreys team-mate Mike Phillips will also reach 50 caps on Saturday and both are set to lead the Wales team out in the Cardiff clash with Ireland.

"Over the years there is not much I haven't been through," said Jones.

The 29-year-old has certainly endured ups and downs in a rollercoaster career, not least losing both the Wales and Ospreys captain's armbands in 2010.

Jones was replaced by Scarlets hooker Matthew Rees as the national team captain for the 2010 autumn internationals while Alun Wyn Jones was named Ospreys skipper before the 2010/11 season.

The Newport-born forward, who shone on the British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand in 2005, missed the 2007 Rugby World Cup because of a shoulder injury.

Jones struggled to recover to his best form on his return and was omitted from the 2009 Lions squad that travelled to South Africa.

Jones, instead, toured with Wales to Canada and the United States but later received an 11th hour call from the Lions and travelled to South Africa as an injury replacement.

You do have ups and downs and highs and lows and you have just got to come out the other side, which I've been fortunate to do

Wales back-rower Ryan Jones

But he was sent home almost immediately with concussion, a problem he suffered with Wales on their north America tour.

Jones, however, is a double Grand Slam winner and led Wales to the 2008 clean-sweep before captaining the Ospreys to the Magners League title in 2010.

Jones, who has been shunted from the back-row to the second-row this season, was named on Wales' bench for their 2011 Six Nations opener against England.

But he came on for the injured Andy Powell in that defeat before starting in Wales' wins in Scotland and Italy, hitting some of his best form in a red jersey.

"You do have ups and downs and highs and lows," said Jones.

"And you have just got to come out the other side, which I've been fortunate to do.

"I'm still enjoying it and fortunate to be part of an exciting team.

"Over the years there is not much I haven't been through to be honest. I just go out and try to enjoy it.

"I just try to do what I know and play what is in front of me and doing it with a big smile on my face which is nice.

"I've survived it. It just makes you the person you are. I'm very lucky with the family and friends and the support I have received.

"One of the highlights for me was the reception I got when I came on against England. That will be something that will live with me for a long time."

Jones made his international debut in a narrow 38-36 defeat to South Africa in November 2004 and has taken six-and-half-years to reach the 50 caps landmark.

"I'm incredibly excited about it. It's going to be a very special day for me and my family.

"And I'm 30 on Sunday as well so it's going to be a hell of a weekend!

Mike Phillips
Lions scrum-half Mike Phillips has scored four tries in his 49 Wales caps

"[But beating Ireland] is the focus and that is the goal and it would make that day all the more special for me."

Phillips, the Lions scrum-half, will join club and country colleague Jones to lead the Wales team out against the Irish as Wales hope to win their third successive Six Nations game on Saturday.

The 28-year-old, who won his first Wales cap in a try-scoring debut against Romania in 2003, became an international regular in 2006 after deputising for Dwayne Peel.

"You know as a kid growing up in Wales, you watch Wales and it seems a million miles away - the Welsh team and the set-up and all that," recalls Phillips.

"It seemed to happen overnight going to Llanelli and then having the opportunity to have the first cap was just a dream come true.

"The time has just flown really and 50 is something really special and something I'm really proud of."

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see also
Gatland hints at Jones comeback
09 Mar 11 |  Welsh
Halfpenny reveals hunger for win
09 Mar 11 |  Welsh
Reddan's mixed Cardiff feelings
09 Mar 11 |  Irish
Hook handed Wales fly-half shirt
08 Mar 11 |  Welsh
Ireland unchanged for Wales clash
08 Mar 11 |  Irish
Edwards wary of Irish try threat
08 Mar 11 |  Welsh

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