Ian Gough will make his 100th appearance for the region in Connacht this weekend, after committing his future to the Ospreys by penning a new two-year deal to stay at the Liberty Stadium.
Having joined the Ospreys in the summer of 2007, Gough made his debut for the region in October that year, having been part of the Welsh squad at the Rugby World Cup, wearing the Ospreys jersey for the first time in a 13-13 draw with Edinburgh at Murrayfield.
Capped by Wales at every age-grade level, he won 64 senior caps, the last of which came against Fiji at the Millennium Stadium in November 2010. Having signed a new contract that runs until the summer of 2014, the experienced second row has now switched his focus to the game against Connacht, which will be his 100th for the region.
“It’s a big achievement however you look at it” he said.
“I’m really pleased to get there. It was only a month or so ago that I was looking at my appearances and realised I was getting pretty close so it’s nice to get there. I got to 92 at the Dragons so I fell just short there, which makes it even nicer to complete the century at the Ospreys.
“The next target for me now is to maybe break through the 200 regional appearances barrier at some time this season, and having signed a new contract I want to take it on some way beyond that number.
“It’s nice to be in a club where the fellow members are true Ospreys legends. Paul James tops the list on 168, and there a few who’ve just gone past 150 recently, but everybody there who has gone over 100 are boys who’ve shown good loyalty to the region.”
Ospreys Forwards Coach Jonathan Humphreys admits he is a long-term Gough admirer, and congratulated him on both his new contract and reaching the 100-cap mark, saying he can be an inspiration to his fellow Ospreys, young and old.
“I’m delighted for Goughie, on both reaching his 100th cap and his new contract. He was a player that I wanted in our squad for a considerable period of time before we finally got hold of him. He’s been a fantastic servant to the region and a real asset to the team, a very durable character and one of the natural leaders in our environment.
“He brings an aggressive physical edge and a wealth of experience at the highest level of the game to the group, as well as a desire to share that knowledge and help people around him. That’s fantastic for the younger players in the group who can learn so much from him.
“He’s also an aspiring coach who is learning the ropes at age-grade level where he will have such a strong influence over the next generation of Ospreys, not just those he is training and playing alongside on a daily basis.”
In addition to continuing playing for the next two years, Gough’s fledgling coaching career will see him working with the Eyasses as he remains a positive influence on the up and coming players.
According to Gough himself, nothing will change for him as continues passing on his considerable knowledge to local youngsters, on and off the pitch.
“I’m just going to keep doing the same thing I’ve always done” he explained.
“Work as hard as I can, play hard and support everyone around me. I’m also working with the U18’s at the moment, having done the U16’s last season and hopefully I can carry on with that moving forward. I’ve got ambitions as a coach and hopefully, if I can help to bring through a couple of youngsters on to become senior Ospreys players I’ll be delighted.
“As an age-grade coach I can’t get too harsh on the young kids because in a year or two they might be training with the senior team and smashing into me! Seriously though, it’s important as a senior pro that I do what I can to help youngsters develop. We’ve got boys on the fringes, young men, who are learning the game and when they are right and ready to take the mantle over then it’ll be time to step aside. I know that, it’s the nature of the game, but I’ve got another two years to serve the team, and in that time, whatever I can pass down to the next generation, I will.
“I’m a bit old school, my attitude is about getting out of bed every day, putting your boots on and getting through it. It’s another day done. Mefin Davies is my inspiration at the moment, if he can keep going I can keep chasing him.”