Exclusive By Steffan Thomas
Josh Navidi and Owen Lane were among four Cardiff Blues players injured in an internal squad game last week in news which could yet have a big impact on Wales’ autumn preparations.
Ahead of the start of the new Guinness PRO14 season, John Mulvihill’s side cranked up their preparations with a training match but it was one which came at a price.
Wing Lane, 22 and who has two Test caps, injured his shoulder and is expected to be out for two months. It means he will miss all six of Wales’ upcoming games.
Lane’s latest injury comes on top of the hamstring and calf strain problems he suffered last season.
Back-row Navidi, a vital figure for Wales in the last two years, was another casualty in the training game.
He suffered concussion and was forced to sit out the opening PRO14 win over Zebre. It is hoped Navidi will be back in contention for the Blues against Connacht this weekend so long as he passes the usual return-to-play protocols.
Former Wales prop Rhys Gill will also be on the sidelines for up to three months after rupturing his left bicep in a tackle and wing Jason Harries damaged medial knee ligaments in the same game.
Harries is expected to sit out the next three months while rising star Mason Grady is expected to be away from the game for the same length of time after injuring his ankle in a training exercise.
It all amounts to catastrophic news for the Blues and to make matters worse, hooker Liam Belcher injured his groin against Zebre and faces a lengthy recovery period.
Navidi, who with 24 caps has grown into one of Wales’ most reliable players, is still likely to be named in Wayne Pivac’s autumn squad on Tuesday.
But Lane won’t be involved and with Johnny McNicholl of the Scarlets also out with an injured ankle there could be an opportunity for Steffan Evans to return to the international fray.
From the Blues’ perspective, the loss of five first team squad members with just one game played and a busy period of rugby ahead is hardly ideal.
Head coach Mulvihill will definitely lose wing Josh Adams – the top try scorer at last year’s Japan World Cup – to Wales duty this autumn.
Jarrod Evans, Hallam Amos, Willis Halaholo, Cory Hill, Rhys Carre, Seb Davies and Dillon Lewis are also all in the international frame and could all be lost to regional duty.
Scrum-half Tomos Williams is currently on the treatment table as is long-term absentee and regional captain Ellis Jenkins who hasn’t played since 2018.
The Blues hope Jenkins might be ready to return to training next month.