By Paul Jones
Wales and Cardiff flanker Josh Navidi has been forced to announce his immediate retirement from rugby union because of a serious neck problem.
Navidi sustained the injury while making his 33rd appearance for Wales in their third Test against South Africa in Cape Town last July.
Navidi has been unable to make a sufficient recovery, and has now announced the end of his distinguished playing career.
“It is with great sadness but also an immense amount of pride that I am announcing my retirement from rugby,” the 32-year-old said in a statement on Cardiff’s website.
“Although I knew this day would come eventually, I don’t think I was ever really able to prepare myself for how difficult it would be to put into words just how much of an impact the game has had on my life.”
In a statement, Cardiff said: “Josh Navidi will retire from rugby with immediate effect after failing to successfully recover from a serious neck injury.”
Navidi helped Wales to three Six Nations titles, including the grand slam in 2019, and was part of Warren Gatland’s side that reached the World Cup semi-finals that year, losing narrowly to the eventual champions, South Africa.
He also made 184 appearances for Cardiff, and travelled with the British and Irish Lions squad to South Africa in 2021 without being capped in a Test match.
“I am enormously grateful to everyone at Cardiff Rugby,” Navidi said.
“I started my career with the club in 2009, and over those 14 years, there have been so many memories made that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
“I will certainly miss playing but I am very proud of everything I have achieved in my career, whether with Cardiff, Wales or the British and Irish Lions,” he added. “I’m now looking forward to the next chapter beyond rugby.”
Cardiff director of rugby Dai Young said: “It is incredibly disappointing when any player is forced to retire but Josh can be enormously proud of his career and everything he has contributed whether in a blue and black or red jersey.
“He has been one of the best back-row forwards in the world over the past number of years and while his playing time for Cardiff has been limited in recent years, what he has contributed over more than a decade is huge.
“He was one of the club’s best and most consistent performers season after season and to make 184 first team appearances and win 33 caps in such an abrasive position is no mean feat.
“Everyone at Cardiff sends Josh our very best wishes for the future and look forward to seeing him as a supporter in the future.”
Ah, man. Sad news about Josh Navidi having to retire at 32. Always felt he was underrated outside of Wales.
His physicality and work at the breakdown will be sorely missed by Cardiff and Wales. Some player. pic.twitter.com/Jn90cCtKUG
— Jamie Phillips (@JNPhillips4) April 20, 2023
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