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The recently retired Josh Navidi has named his Ultimate XV

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by MB Media/Getty Images)

Former Wales back-rower Josh Navidi has named his Ultimate XV, an understandably Welsh-biased selection peppered with legends such as South Africa’s Bakkies Botha, Australia’s Matt Giteau and Ireland’s Brian O’Driscoll. It was April 20 when a statement from Cardiff confirmed that Navidi had retired with immediate effect, playing his final match in July 2022 and failing to recover from the neck injury sustained versus the Springboks in Cape Town.


Navidi has now reflected on his decorated career during an appearance on the latest RugbyPass Offload and the 2021 British and Irish Lions pick named England tighthead Kyle Sinckler as the best bloke on that difficult behind-closed-doors tour.

“When we were down in Cape Town, had a golf course at our hotel and then had just an unlimited supply of red wine and beer. There were only two things you could really do, but it was good craic. It was different from previous tours.

“It would have been nice (to have) the fans out there, seeing the sea of red and going to experience it. Even if you were not playing you could go out and have a beer. That is what it is all about, meeting boys from other countries and you all come to one. It was the same but obviously different. Met some awesome guys on tour, top blokes.”

Like who? “Kyle Sinckler, his positivity is unreal. Just the recovery. I used to be DJ and he’d be an MC and I have to constantly turn him down so everyone could listen to the music. But the stuff he would come out with, it was unreal,” he said before referencing the prop’s liking for saunas.

“He loved the sauna. He full-on drove it, he loved his saunas. He was fuming – it broke one day so he couldn’t use it and he was, ‘When is it on, when is it on, when are they fixing it?’”

Navidi then went on to name his Ultimate XV featuring players he had played with and against throughout his long career. That innings began for the now 32-year-old in 2009 with a Cardiff first-team debut at Leinster.


“Front row, Gethin Jenkins, Matthew Rees, Tau Filise. I played with all of them at Cardiff. Then Alun Wyn Jones, he’s just an absolute warrior. Bakkies Botha, played against him in Toulon games. (Siya) Kolisi, (Michael) Hooper and, of course, Toby Faletau, just unreal players. That back row would be a nasty back row.

“Then Tomas Williams from Cardiff and Wales, best-skilled scrum-half I have ever seen. He is ridiculous, his background is basketball. Dan Biggar, the championships we have won with him and his professionalism, the player that he is and the competitor, I have gone with him 10. I did say Owen Farrell as well, when we were on the Lions tour and playing against him, played Sarries a couple of times.

“George North, being there for so long. Giteau, played against him at Toulon at home. We won but that was a hell of a game, it was unreal playing against people you idolised. My first cap, Brian O’Driscoll for Cardiff in Leinster. Not a bad way to start.

“We nearly won that game, I nearly scored. I was about that far from the whitewash and we nearly won. It’s a difficult place to go but it’s the closest I ever came to winning out there. Then Gareth Thomas, Alfie, and Leigh Halfpenny full-back. Sorry, it is a lot Welsh-based but I’m a little bit biased.”


Navidi then completed his lengthy interview with a few quick-fire Q&A:


RPO: Best player you played with?


JN: I would say Alun Wyn Jones. Him and Gethin Jenkins.

RPO: Best player you ever played against?

JN: Hamish Watson, coming up against him you know what you have. When they say tough players, it’s players who are always there, always on top of you. You don’t get a breath of fresh air… someone who is there every ruck.

RPO: Player who has rubbed you up the most?

JN: Bakkies Botha. He took me out late at a ruck and he just stayed on top of me a little bit. I knew it was a penalty our way and we actually got three points.

RPO: Three players in a car to the ultimate party?

JN: You want some lunatics in there. I’ll go with this, (Stuart) Hogg, (Luke) Cowan-Dickie and Sinckler. That would be a good crew, a solid crew.


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