After fearing he might never play rugby again, Dan Fish admits it is beyond a dream come true to reach 100 appearances for his beloved Cardiff Blues.
The Arms Park favourite hit the long-awaited milestone in last night’s Syft International Challenge victory over Uruguay.
Fish pulled the strings in the seven-try victory and deservedly picked up the Syft man-of-the-match award.
And it was just reward for the 27-year-old, who battled back from a ruptured hamstring, which was likened to being slashed by a machete, and a fractured wrist upon his initial comeback.
“It’s a massive achievement for me,” beamed Fish. “I’m a young boy from Cardiff, I’ve watched Cardiff Blues play since I was a kid, I watched the likes of Martyn Williams, Gethin Jenkins and Tom Shanklin.
“It was great to play with them - it was always a dream to play a game for the Blues so to play 100 is unbelievable.
“Two seasons ago I was flying. I was on 95 caps but suffered that bad injury out in Connacht, which took me a long time to get back from.
“There are three tendons to the hamstring and they all totally ripped off from the top. When I had the scan and saw the surgeon, he thought I had been slashed by a machete. He had never seen anything like it.
“When I was sat in the house with my leg up 90 degrees for six weeks… can’t get off the sofa, can’t do anything, can’t shower, you do think to yourself ‘what am I going to do?’.
“It took me 11 months to get back running but the Blues were fantastic and gave me the extra opportunity to get back on the field, they did everything they could.
“I’m thankful to the Blues for giving me the rehab and the time because not many people thought I would play again. But unfortunately in my first game back against Newcastle I fractured my wrist.
“I went up for a high ball but landed on my wrist and when I looked down it was facing the wrong way.
“To have a set-back like that, I was thinking, ‘will I ever reach this goal?’.
“But the Blues have been brilliant, they have done everything for me and this is a dream come true - a Cardiff boy playing 100 games.”
It was fitting that Fish reached the landmark at the Arms Park and scores of juniors from his local club – St Albans – were on the terraces to mark the occasion.
And they were celebrating long after full-time with the full-back-cum-fly-half, who has achieved cult status in the capital.
“To do it at the Arms Park in front of my friends and family is unbelievable,” he continued.
“I’m from Tremorfa, St Albans is my local club and to get those boys down to watch is amazing.
“Hopefully I am an inspiration to them like they are an inspiration to me. I go there on weekends with my parents so to see them cheering and chanting my name is surreal.
“When you think of the boys the Blues have, and have had, the Warburtons, Gethin Jenkins… to hear your name chanted makes you feel three inches taller.”
Fish has been more accustomed to pulling on the number 15 jersey during his days at Cardiff Blues but after standing in at fly-half for the A team he impressed against Los Teros.
He played his junior rugby at fly-half and following a nightmare couple of seasons he is back enjoying rugby and ready to continue from where he left off.
“I’ve played 10 a lot during my junior career and I’ve been running there quite a bit with the A team so it was good to go out there, go back to where I started and the boys working around me – the forwards were outstanding and the boys in the backline were really good.
“I had to bide my time to get to 100 but I’ve been involved during the last three games and I’m starting to feel I’m towards where I was before the first injury.
“I probably had the man of the match award because it was my 100th game but it was a team effort.
“It was a good win in the end and the boys played really well. We wanted to play running rugby and the weather dictated a bit with the bad conditions but the boys did well.
“In the second half we came out on fire and scored a couple of good tries, then we probably relaxed for 10-15 minutes and let the come back into the game with two tries but we finished the game really strong.”