Lloyd Williams will become just the second member of a very exclusive club when he runs out for his 200th Cardiff Blues appearance against Cheetahs on Saturday evening.
The scrum-half will join Fa’ao Filise in reaching the landmark and cement his place as an all-time great at the Arms Park, achieved over 10 years and 11 seasons in the first team.
Known almost exclusively as ‘Brynmor’s Boy’ as he came through the ranks, Williams made his debut off the bench at home to Leinster in the late stages of the 2009/10 season, replacing Gareth Cooper.
Learning from the likes of Cooper and Richie Rees, as well as Mike Phillips and Jason Spice who were at Cardiff Blues as a young Lloyd made his way through the age grade system, clearly stood him in good stead as the time came to step up to first choice scrum-half quite early in his career.
By the end of the following 2010/11 campaign he was well on his way to earning the nine jersey and shaking the tag of being his father’s son, after getting a somewhat surprise call-up to Wales’ Rugby World Cup squad that summer.
Starting 16 of 16 games across the Pro12 and Heineken Cup in 2011/12 he was for a time the clear second choice scrum-half in Wales, backing up Mike Phillips as the national team won a Grand Slam in 2012 and followed it up with a Six Nations Championship in 2013.
This preceded what was to-date his most prolific period with the Cardiff Blues, scoring 15 tries in 41 games across the league and Europe between 2014 and 2016, although perhaps his most important contribution to rugby at this time was on the wing in a red jersey.
Many people remember Gareth Davies scoring under the posts for Wales as we beat England at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, but in his second tournament it was the experience and calm head of Lloyd who stepped on to the wing during an injury crisis and put a perfectly weighted left-footed kick through for the Scarlet to get on the end of.
Unfortunately after that the international caps have been hard to come by, but Williams’ presence is still felt on the Welsh team, while he has moved into a different but still key role with Cardiff Blues.
The emergence of Tomos Williams has seen Lloyd’s game time take a slight hit in recent years, but the influence of the older scrum-half on the younger man is quite clear.
When Tomos arrived on the first team radar a few years ago he was an attacking livewire but a player who needed a big improvement in his game management skills.
Learning from Lloyd, who is one of the best game managers in the Pro14, has seen him come on leaps and bounds in that department to the point where he is now arguably Wales’ first choice scrum-half.
Lloyd meanwhile has become a bedrock in the Cardiff Blues team, captaining the side on many occasions and being an integral part of the squad that won the European Challenge Cup for a second time in Bilbao in 2018.
While he might not have the cutting pace to dart around the fringes of the breakdown that he did as a youngster, his quality of pass is still up there with the best around and the ability to box kick off both feet has got us out of plenty of sticky situations.
Reaching 200 appearances before his 30th birthday is a superb achievement, and will hopefully give his team-mates some extra motivation as he leads them out in a must-win game at the Arms Park on Saturday evening.
Time is still very much on Lloyd Williams’ side as he continues to write himself further into the Cardiff Blues history books.