Wales’ Josh Navidi has vowed to embrace the captaincy role against Ireland on Saturday having been handed the chance to lead his country for the first time.
Ireland visit the Principality Stadium for Wales’ final match on home soil before the Rugby World Cup, with head coach Warren Gatland ringing the changes.
He announced 14 alterations to his starting XV following the victory over England, with Navidi one of those coming into the team.
It caps a fine rise for the Cardiff Blues back-rower, who has only played 17 times for his country.
“It is a massive honour. I’ve had loads of messages from people, which is nice. My family are ecstatic as well, and it will be nice to lead the team out,” Navidi said on Friday.
“Gats [Gatland] came up to me after a units session and asked me would I like to lead the team. It’s something you can’t turn down, really.
— Welsh Rugby Union (@WelshRugbyUnion) August 30, 2019
“I will try and keep the emotions down. It’s another game of rugby, but obviously nice to lead the team out, embrace the moment and then get into it.
“I am not much of a talker, to be honest. Hopefully, I can lead from the front, and everyone else will follow.
“As a youngster I captained Bridgend Athletic, and my school. I have done it a bit with the Blues over the years too.
“Alun Wyn [Jones], I have played quite a lot with him recently, and obviously Gethin Jenkins and Matthew Rees at the Blues, and it’s little things you pick up on through them. It just brings your game forward, and hopefully I can pass it on to others.
“But to be honest, I have never thought about it [being captain], with the leaders in the group with Wales.
“You have got Alun Wyn, Ken Owens and Jonathan Davies, who are massive figures in the team, and it’s something that I’ve never thought I would come across – I thought just getting the red jersey is enough – so it will be nice.”
Wales will face Ireland again on September 7 in Dublin for their final pre-World Cup warm-up.
Their campaign begins 16 days later, against Georgia in Toyota City.