As transfer silly season gets fully underway with the New Year approaching, rumours begin to swirl of comings and goings at the Arms Park ahead of the 2019/20 campaign.
This week’s social media talk has been centred around the possibility of Josh Navidi heading west to join the Scarlets, with the Wales back rower out of contract this coming summer. Unsurprisingly, he is a player who the West Walians are keen on adding to their squad.
Especially when you consider the Scarlets lost John Barclay and Tadhg Beirne last summer, while Uzair Cassiem has not had the impact hoped after his arrival from Cheetahs, Blade Thomson has missed a few months of action, Aaron Shingler is a long-term injury absentee and James Davies has struggled with knocks on-and-off, it makes sense for them to go after him.
However, Cardiff Blues have to be keeping hold of quality players like Josh Navidi if we are to push on as regular Heineken Champions Cup qualifiers.
So far this season we have seen Fa’ao Filise, Sam Warburton and Gethin Jenkins retire, while Matthew Rees and Nick Williams may move on from playing in the next season or two, leaving the senior player ranks dwindling at the club.
Despite being only 28, Navidi is now in his 10th season with the Cardiff Blues, with 166 appearances across all competitions under his belt and having captained the side on a number of occasions, he is undoubtedly an experienced member of the squad and a big part of the leadership.
He is also a massive fan favourite, with the dreadlocked hair making him instantly recognisable when watching from the terraces, particularly among younger supporters.
Most importantly off all though, is that in the past two years, since playing international rugby regularly, he has transcended the role of ‘solid regional level player’ to become a high class back row operator capable of mixing it with the best in the world.
Impressive performances against South Africa and New Zealand in Autumn 2017 were transferred to the 2018 Six Nations, and although he has been injured for both the subsequent international windows, you wouldn’t put it past him to be named in the upcoming Six Nations squad after returning from injury in good form.
It’s Navidi’s multi-skillset that sets him apart from others, with a seemless ability to slot in right across the back row owing it’s thanks to some ferocious tackling, an accurate jackal and carrying power that belies his frame that is on the small side for a number eight or a blindside.
Now, it’s worth pointing out here that rumours of a move to Scarlets are just that. My understanding is that he is fully expected to re-sign with Cardiff Blues beyond this summer, with the situation being explained as similar to that of last season whereby Ellis Jenkins was linked with the Ospreys before ultimately signing a new contract at the Arms Park.
However, nothing like a reminder that Josh Navidi is one of our best and most important players, and with plenty of years still in the tank he is someone to base our team around for a good few years to come.