Despite winning two Grand Slams and playing a crucial role as Wales reached the semi-finals of last year's World Cup, Jones insists he came close to never fulfilling his full potential.
Jones struggled for fitness during the beginning of his international career and was regularly substituted early on in Test matches under former coach Steve Hansen. He remained a regular squad member under Scott Johnson and Gareth Jenkins but failed to shine as regularly as he does now.
All that changed when Warren Gatland took the reigns in December of 2007 in what was a major turning point in Jones' now stellar career.
"I honestly feel I have only truly contributed to the ream since 2008," said Jones, who now has 75 caps to his name and also won Test honours on the British & Irish Lions' tour to Australia two-and-a-half years ago.
"At first I was just happy to be playing for Wales, but as well as we did in my first 50 caps, I have sort of written them off because I wish I had worked harder. I wouldn't forget the 2005 Grand Slam, but even then I was pretty poor.
"I was a bit of a lump who could hold up the scrum but didn't make much of a contribution elsewhere. I had a poor World Cup in 2007 and was falling by the wayside.
"When Warren Gatland came in I realised I needed to pull my finger out. Craig White (Wales' former conditioning coach) got me in shape and that coincided with the scrum and tight-head position becoming an important part of the game again.
"Craig was good because he realised that I didn't need somebody shouting and trying to get me angry to achieve results. He befriended me and things went pretty well.
"The conditioning has been hard and I can still go the to rails very quickly and put weight on, but I actually enjoy training now and even do some extra."