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Neck injury forces Wales flank to retire

NEWS: Wales loose forward Josh Navidi has announced his immediate retirement from rugby after failing to successfully recover from a serious neck injury sustained against the Springboks in Cape Town.

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Tributes have poured in for Navidi since he shared the news with the world on Thursday.

A Cardiff statement read: “Josh Navidi will retire from rugby with immediate effect after failing to successfully recover from a serious neck injury. The 32-year-old flank has not played since picking up the injury during the third Test of Wales’ summer tour to South Africa in 2022.

“It brings a close to a glittering career in which the abrasive flanker has made 184 appearances for Cardiff, won 33 caps for Wales and toured with the British and Irish Lions. During that time, Navidi clinched the European Challenge Cup with Cardiff, won three Six Nations titles, including a Grand Slam, and helped Wales reach the 2019 Rugby World Cup semi-finals.

“Navidi came through the Cardiff academy system after spending two seasons in New Zealand, where he attended St Bede’s College, Christchurch, and made his first-team debut against Leinster in 2009. The Brynteg School alumni quickly became a cult hero at the Cardiff Arms Park, easily recognisable by his trade-mark dreadlocks, and will go down as one of the club’s finest flankers.”

Navidi said: “It is with great sadness but also an immense amount of pride that I am announcing my retirement from rugby. 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.

“I am enormously grateful to everyone at Cardiff Rugby. 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. Running out onto the Arms Park field with my teammates to our incredible supporters never grew old and for this reason, the club has always held a special place in my heart.

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“From winning the Challenge Cup in Bilbao in 2018 to winning against Toulon in a packed-out Arms Park, every time I put on that blue shirt it was an honour and I would like to thank the staff over the years, our supporters, and the boys who I got to take the field with every week for making these moments possible.

“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, and I’m now looking forward to the next chapter beyond rugby.”

Coach Dai Young, who gave Navidi his 2009 debut at Cardiff, added: “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.

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“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 looks forward to seeing him as a supporter in the future.”

Source @RugbyPass

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