Josh Navidi: Wales Six Nations return was beyond my expectations

Flanker made his return from injury during Friday night’s Six Nations loss to France and is set to continue Test comeback against Italy in round five

<p>Wales’ Josh Navidi has made an immediate impression on his return to Test rugby</p>

Wales’ Josh Navidi has made an immediate impression on his return to Test rugby

Josh Navidi admits that getting to play a part in Wales Rugby’s 2022 Six Nations campaign was beyond his expectations.

But after a year away from the international game, Navidi underlined his continued importance to Wales head coach Wayne Pivac with an outstanding display in an agonising 13-9 defeat against Six Nations title favourites France.

The Cardiff flanker hit his straps immediately – as Pivac predicted he would – following just one comeback appearance for his club following five months out due to a shoulder injury.

“It was beyond my expectations, really. I didn’t realise I was going to get called into the squad,” Navidi said.

“I was looking for Cardiff first, and I knew being out for that length of time that I needed to just put in the work, make sure my shoulder was right and strong.

“I got a hit-out against Ulster, and then I received a surprise phone call the next day. You grab it with both hands.

“I didn’t realise I was going to play (against France). I thought I was just going to come in to train. It was nice to get back out there.

“International rugby is a lot quicker, but I felt my lungs and legs were there.

“Still maybe, to me personally, I am probably five per cent off, but I always say that my third game is when I come into my stride.

“I am not too sure what team selection will be (against Italy on Saturday), but fingers crossed I will get the nod again.

“I haven’t missed that much rugby for Cardiff – we’ve still got 12 games left – but obviously missing the autumn Tests and start of the Six Nations is always disappointing.

Josh Navidi returned for Wales against France

“There is a still a lot of rugby to be played, the shoulder is feeling strong. I’ve had the test and bangs on it now, and it is feeling good.”

Pivac will name his team to face Italy on Tuesday – two days earlier than normal – with changes expected.

Ospreys forwards Dewi Lake and Jac Morgan could be among those included, with a possible recall for Gloucester wing Louis Rees-Zammit and Kieran Hardy starting at scrum-half.

Fly-half Dan Biggar will captain the team and win his 100th cap, but there might also be a place in the match-day 23 for fit-again Alun Wyn Jones.

For the second time in less than a year, 36-year-old lock Jones has defied medical predictions in terms of returning to action.

He did it last summer and captained the British and Irish Lions in their Test series against South Africa after overcoming a shoulder injury in rapid time.

And after suffering another shoulder problem in Wales’ autumn Test against New Zealand four months ago – he required two operations – many forecasts suggested that Jones might struggle to play again this season.

But has been recalled to the squad by Pivac, and if he does feature on Saturday, then his 150th Wales cap awaits.

Wales should have way too much for an Italian side already resigned to the Six Nations wooden spoon, and a bonus-point victory could even mean them finishing third.

Navidi added: “Against England, we left it to the last minute to try and claw it back, and then a narrow defeat at home against France.

“We played a lot better and played a lot of rugby in their half, but credit to France with their defence and (coach) Shaun Edwards, which is hard to break down.

“It’s massive to put an 80-minute performance in on Saturday and get that win.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in