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Josh Navidi called into Wales squad as Pivac drops Autumn hero

By Ian Cameron
Josh Navidi (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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Head coach Wayne Pivac has called Josh Navidi into the Wales squad after the flanker spent over six months on the international sideline.

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Navidi made a successful return from injury to start for Cardiff over the weekend and has been called straight back into the team.

Pivac has apparently dropped Autumn Nation Series hero Ellis Jenkins, who has been ‘released’ to tour South Africa.

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An WRU statement reads: “Josh Navidi (Cardiff Rugby) has been called up to the Wales senior men’s squad for the remainder of the Guinness Six Nations. Ellis Jenkins has been released to join Cardiff Rugby for their upcoming fixtures in South Africa.”

Navidi was injured on the Lions tour despite playing a relatively marginal role for the touring side.

It seems like a tremendously harsh call on his Cardiff teammate Jenkins, who is being sent to South Africa on URC duty.

Jenkins was one of Wales’ standout players during the Autumn Nations series, even captaining the side against Australia, but he hasn’t featured at all during the Guinness Six Nations despite being fit.

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In the Autumn, Pivac described Jenkins as ‘a leading player for us going forward’.

“Ellis has certainly got leadership qualities, we know that. He has the ability to captain a side, but the first thing you need to do to do that is be a number one starter, so the big thing for him at the moment is to keep on building on his short return to the game.

“Where we are with the lack of leadership and captaincy experience lends itself to him taking the side this week. Certainly, we don’t think it’s going to hamper his game.

“He is an experienced player, he understands the game and he makes good decisions. He is a good communicator, good with referees and asks good questions.

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“He has been, and will be again, a leading player for Wales moving forwards. It’s just time now in the saddle for him in his position back on the park.”

Navidi’s return is a second personnel boost ahead of France. Last week Alun Wyn Jones joined the camp to continue his shoulder injury rehabilitation. Wales captain Jones is expected to miss the full Six Nations due to the shoulder problem picked up in the autumn fixtures.

But the British and Irish Lions lock’s presence will doubtless give Wayne Pivac’s squad a lift in the extended build-up to facing France on Friday, March 11.

Wales sit fifth in the table after three matches, following Saturday’s 23-19 defeat by England.

– additional reporting PA

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