Wales: Josh Navidi hails ‘outstanding and consistent’ team-mate Taulupe Faletau

Colin Newboult

Flanker Josh Navidi has praised his fellow Wales back-row Taulupe Faletau following the number eight’s outstanding Cardiff debut at the weekend.

Faletau was deservedly named player of the match as Dai Young’s men overcame Munster 20-13 in their United Rugby Championship opener.

The 31-year-old is a new signing at the Arms Park and Navidi, who can now call him a team-mate at both regional and international level, hailed his “world-class” qualities.

Wow factor

“He’s outstanding and consistent,” The flanker told the BBC.

“It’s the stuff you don’t see – a lot of the stuff he does off the ball. Playing with him, you notice. He’s world-class.

“It makes it a lot easier for whoever is alongside him to do their job. He adds that wow factor to our pack and our team.”

Faletau is already a crucial cog in the Cardiff machine but will be particularly important over the next month as Navidi recovers from injury.

He is currently suffering from a neck issue picked up against the Springboks in the third of their three-Test series in July.

“It is slow and steady at the minute,” Navidi said.

“I am rehabbing it and seeing how we’re going with that. I have just had injections. It’s taking its time, but hopefully will be a couple more weeks.

“It would have been great to come straight back in with pre-season and get into the mix with Cardiff.

“I find it quite frustrating. The boys went well and you want to be out there with them.

“It’s going to be a good year for us, having watched pre-season and seeing the way the boys have gone about their business.”

Wales take on New Zealand, Argentina, Georgia and Australia in their end-of-year series, but Navidi doesn’t expect it to be a long-term problem.

“It’s just a nerve and discs putting pressure on it, that’s why I’m getting issues,” he said.

“I can only take it week by week. Hopefully it settles.

“Working with the physio, we’ve done everything to get back on the pitch and get playing again.

“It’s just a bulged disc really. I think the word scares people, but it’s just a bulged disc.”

World Cup preparations

It is a big season for Wales with the Rugby World Cup in France just under a year away and Navidi says that they have unfinished business at the global tournament.

“(The World Cup) feels like a stone that we need to turn. Again, it was disappointing to pick up an injury in the French game (in 2019) and having to watch the semi-final (against South Africa),” he added.

“We could have made the final. It was frustrating and you feel like there’s something left out there.”

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