Wales legend Alun Wyn Jones says he is looking forward not back as he prepares to equal the world record for international Test appearances.
The 35-year-old will draw level with Richie McCaw on 148 caps when he leads his country out for an autumn warm-up clash against France this evening and could break the record against Scotland in the Guinness Six Nations next weekend.
And more than 14 years on from winning the first of those caps, the lock’s desire to represent his nation burns as brightly as ever.
“It would be very easy to say you’re tired and be profound but for me I’ve got less years ahead than I have behind and that’s why I’ve still got the hunger,” Jones said.
“I’ve got a few people who have come into my family who are very important. It means more than ever and it will continue to do so. I’m very fortunate again to pull on the red of Wales.”
Jones’ experience will be vital over the course of a busy autumn for Wayne Pivac’s side, who have taken the opportunity to blood new faces in the Stade de France.
Speedster Louis Rees-Zammit and hooker Sam Parry are set to become Wales’ latest debutants having been named among the replacements this weekend and Jones is relishing being part of the beginning of their international adventure.
“I’m probably past the days of looking back. I’m looking forwards so I’m more excited to see the likes of Louis and Sam come off the bench,” he said.
“That’s a massive thing for them and as a player who has been fortunate enough to do it on a few occasions, to be involved when a player starts their journey is massive. It is very special.”
Tonight’s game in Paris is Wales’ first since they were narrowly beaten at Twickenham in Round 4 of the Guinness Six Nations in early March.
And with the country having just entered a two-week lockdown, the return of international rugby is set to provide a welcome morale boost – with Jones fully aware of how his side can help lift spirits.
“It has affected the wider world and everyone differently, but I’ve been very fortunate to have time with the family and to let the body heal from the professional side of things,” he said.
“Irrelevant of what level you play at whether you’re at mini rugby or professional, we’ve all seen and heard how much people have missed professional sport not just rugby.
“As someone who is very fortunate to wear the red of Wales, I’m no different.
“We realise having been involved in successful campaigns in the past you can lift a nation and that’s what we’ll endeavour to do tomorrow and throughout this campaign.”