Cardiff's Josh Navidi. Pic: Getty Images.

Josh Navidi Close To Return For Cardiff And Could Yet Make Six Nations

By David Williams

Josh Navidi is on course to play his first game since October when Cardiff head to Ulster on March 4.

Cardiff director of rugby Dai Young said he was thrilled to have the Wales and British & Irish Lions flanker back in training last week after recovering from shoulder surgery and hasn’t ruled out the possibility of him being able to help out Wales at the back end of the Six Nations.

“Josh is back with the boys in training, although not in full contact this week. He won’t be available for this week’s game against Zebre, but maybe for the trip to Ulster,” said Young.

“A few things will have to fall into place for that to happen. If not, then he will come with us to South Africa.

“That would rule him out of the Six Nations, but if he is fit to face Ulster then who knows what might happen. He has done so much work he looks like he has never been away.”

Wales travel to Twickenham on March 26 for round three of this year’s championship. They then host France on Friday, March 11 and receive Italy on 19 March.

Wales head coach Wayne Pivac has released three players back to Cardiff for Friday night’s home clash with Zebre in the URC.

 

Among them is centre Willis Halaholo, who will be hoping to use the game to prove he is over the hamstring strain that ruled him out of the matches against Ireland and Scotland.

“I know he’s been nursing his hamstring but he’s come through training this week,” added Young.

“I think Wayne said last week he was a bit touch and go but I’m sure he sees this is an opportunity to show everybody he’s 100% fit and to put his hand up for selection.

“We always see Willis as a real attacking weapon for us and he’ll certainly put his hand up for Wayne to look at.

“We’ve all seen what Willis can bring to the game. He’s got that invaluable commodity of being able to beat people and he’s got the ability to give you go-forward, even off slow ball.

“When we’re talking to other coaches in our league, they’re always focusing on Willis and all feel he’s a threat.”

Young has made two changes to the team that beat Leinster for their home game against Zebre on Friday night.

 

Scrum-half Jamie Hill and loosehead prop Brad Thyer come into the side for a game Young agrees should be a viewed with expectation on the part of his players, given their victory over the URC champions.

He added: “I expect us to win on the weekend. I know it’s going to be tough, it’s not being disrespectful but if we can set our standards to the levels of beating Leinster, then you have to expect to win these games.

“That’s the challenge for us. We have trained really well and I’ve been pleased with the boys’ attitude and accuracy in training but we have to maintain those standards.

“Zebre is one I am really looking forward to because it will give me an indication of how strong we are mentally because most games we have played recently have been games that we’re not expected to win and it’s been easy to get to that place.

“We know if we don’t get it right we could be embarrassed. What we need to get to is stepping up every week. But I’m excited to look at it, I’ve been really pleased with training this week because we look like we’re in the right place and time will tell on Friday night.”

 

Keiron Assiratti will provide hooker cover from the bench, having featured for Cardiff RFC in that position in recent weeks.

Rhys Carré and James Ratti are also included amongst the replacements, having been released from the Wales squad for the weekend’s action but Willis Halaholo misses out after suffering a laceration to the eyelid.

Cardiff: Hallam Amos; Owen Lane, Rey Lee-Lo, Ben Thomas, Aled Summerhill; Jarrod Evans, Jamie Hill; Brad Thyer, Kirby Myhill, Dmitri Arhip, Josh Turnbull (capt.), Rory Thornton, Shane Lewis-Hughes, Will Boyde, James Botham

Replacements: Keiron Assiratti, Rhys Carré, Will Davies-King, Teddy Williams, James Ratti, Lloyd Williams, Garyn Smith, Matthew Morgan

 

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