‘Six Nations return beyond expectations’

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Wales flanker Josh Navidi played his 29th international against France
Wales flanker Josh Navidi won his 29th cap against France
Venue: Principality Stadium, Cardiff Date: Saturday, 19 March Kick-off: 14:15 GMT
Coverage: Watch live on BBC One, BBC iPlayer and online from 13:45 GMT; listen on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio Cymru; text commentary on BBC Sport website and mobile app.

Wales flanker Josh Navidi says he did not expect to play in the 2022 Six Nations following his early return from a shoulder injury.

Navidi was expected to miss the tournament after suffering the injury while playing for Cardiff in October 2021.

But the 31-year-old recovered ahead of schedule and impressed in Wales’ back row during the 13-9 defeat by France.

“It was beyond my expectations, really,” said Navidi.

The British and Irish Lions flanker played only one game for Cardiff against Ulster before being called up by Wales coach Wayne Pivac to the Six Nations squad.

“I didn’t realise I was going to get called in,” said Navidi.

“I was looking for Cardiff first, and I knew being out for four-and-a-half months, 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 got a surprise phone call the next day. You grab it with both hands.

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

“Everyone is disappointed with the France defeat and we spoke about it in the huddle.

“We played a lot better and a lot of rugby in their half, but credit to France with their defence and Shaun Edwards, they are hard to break down.”

Navidi slotted back on the international stage in a similar fashion to Bath number eight Taulupe Faletau against England in the previous game.

“It was nice to get 75 minutes under my belt,” added Navidi.

“I was good to get the 80 with Cardiff last week. It’s obviously a step up, internationally. It was good to get 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.

“Fingers crossed, all the hard work has been done and I am back to 100%.

“I haven’t missed that much rugby for Cardiff but missing the autumn and start of the Six Nations is always disappointing.

“There is 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.”

Navidi is hoping to be given another opportunity in the tournament finale against Italy.

Wales are looking for a second win to finish the competition on a high after defeats against Ireland, England and France.

“I am not sure what team selection will be, but fingers crossed I will get the nod again,” said Navidi.

“It’s massive to put an 80-minute performance in and get that win. We will look back on this game and see what we can put right and build into next week.

“Italy at home is still going to be a tough one, but we need to put a performance in and get that win.”

Navidi could be joined in the Wales pack by lock Alun Wyn Jones, who has officially been included in the squad.

Jones, 36, has recovered from his own long-term shoulder injury and is looking for his 150th Wales cap against Italy.

“He is a massive part of the team and he is a big character,” added Navidi.

“He brings leadership and the standards in training as well.

“It will be nice to see him back on the pitch. Fingers crossed, he does all the rehabilitation and contact preparation he needs to do, and get himself right.”

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