Navidi determined to embrace World Cup opportunity

Wales back-row forward Josh Navidi can class World Cup-winning New Zealand coach Steve Hansen and England players among his many admirers.

But Navidi admits he would probably not have believed anyone four years ago who predicted him being part of Wales’ World Cup squad in Japan.

The 28-year-old Cardiff Blues player has become a pivotal cog in Wales boss Warren Gatland’s finely-tuned machinery.

Navidi has won 14 of his 21 Wales Tests, and his versatility is underlined by him switching from number eight to blindside flanker against Pool D opponents Fiji on Wednesday.

He has also worn the number seven shirt and captained Wales, with Gatland readily acknowledging his considerable ability.

He runs hard, tackles hard, does the basics well and doesn’t make many mistakes.

I remember speaking to John Mitchell (England defence coach) after we played England at home, and he said that the England boys have a lot of respect for him as a player.

That to me is recognition of quality.

A few years ago – I think it was one of Josh’s first games when we played the All Blacks – and Steve Hansen said: ‘where did you get that number seven from?’

We are very lucky in that department. We have some real quality loose forwards who are all capable of doing a job, and there is some real competition there.

– WARREN GATLAND, WALES HEAD COACH

Josh Navidi

Navidi went four years between winning his first and second caps, but he is now arguably one of the first names on Gatland’s team sheet.

It’s been crazy. A couple of months ago I did take a step back and think about it. If you had said to me fours ago that I would be playing in this World Cup, I probably wouldn’t have believed you.

It is nice to be here embracing it and taking the opportunity. Hopefully, I can just keep the jersey and keep on playing.

It has gone well. I know the jersey can be taken off you so quickly, so I just have to embrace it. You have to take it when you can and hold on to it for as long as you can.

– JOSH NAVIDI, WALES BACK ROW FORWARD

Navidi’s immediate thoughts are on Fiji, when he partners back-row colleagues James Davies and Ross Moriarty, knowing that a victory in Oita would confirm Wales’ quarter-final place one group game inside the distance.

They (Fiji) like a frantic and open game. We have just got to concentrate on ourselves and make sure our set-piece and everything is right, and all our patterns are there.

A lot of people know him (Davies), and he is a massive threat over the ball and in attack as well. He is a bit of a character, he does tuck a few of the boys up. He had me. He is a good boy to tour with. It is good to have him here.

Liam (Williams), him and Brad (Davies) are on tour entertainment.

They did a thing where we had to guess whose tweet it was, and it was about the 2015 World Cup. It came up, and I thought it couldn’t be me, but it was, so I had to do a forfeit.

– JOSH NAVIDI, WALES BACK ROW FORWARD

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