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Dan Biggar is tackled by Lood de Jager and Bongi Mbonambi of South Africa.

Navidi: ‘Wales have put pride back into the shirt’

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Josh Navidi believes Wales have put pride back into the red shirt with their performances in South Africa.

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Wales ended their Six Nations campaign with a shock defeat to Italy but bounced back by winning their first ever Test against the Springboks in South Africa while they were also very competitive in the other two Tests.

Navidi insists this tour has been a significant step forward for Wales and is confident they can keep improving with the Rugby World Cup just over a year away.

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“We needed a reaction at the end of the day,” said the Cardiff Rugby star.  “Italy wasn’t us, and we were very disappointed. We had a big stretch of time just to think about it, and to try to put it right.

“To come out here in the first Test the boys stuck up their hand and put pride back into the jersey. All the supporters were happy, but we wanted to go one better and win out here which we did.

“It was a massive achievement, and fair play the group of boys we’ve had out here has been unbelievable. Everyone has bought into it.

“We knew what they were going to bring but the boys enjoyed it. It’s been a tough series but hopefully the pride has been put into the shirt.

“Hopefully, we can build on this now and not go backwards. It’s a long old year and we’ve got the autumn to think about first, then the Six Nations, and then into it.

“It is a big season, and I am really looking forward to it. Obviously, you always want to play in a World Cup.

“I’ve only been to one and it was an amazing experience. Hopefully, we can keep building on our momentum and the squad.”

Navidi impressed off the bench in the first two tests but was a late call-up to start the final test in Cape Town after Taulupe Faletau was forced to withdraw due to an injury sustained in the warm-up.

“You never know being on the bench what’s going to happen,” said the 31-year-old. You could be on in the first minute or come on late in the game.

“You’ve got to prepare to start, and you’ve got to switch on, know your role, and get on with it. Thinking about it too much is not going to make a big difference, you’ve just got to get on with the job.

“Unfortunately for Toby (Faletau) he dropped out in the warm-up but I took my opportunity, and it is just nice to get out on the pitch.”

Navidi was also full of praise for Wales’ back-row of Dan Lydiate, Tommy Reffell, and Faletau, and believes they have something to build on going into the autumn internationals, and beyond.

“The back-row has gone really well,” he said. “There are some good combinations.  They boys have played very well. I just tried to make as much of an impact off the bench as I could.

“To get my opportunity I just tried to take it with both hands because you never know. I really enjoyed it out there.“It was a good game to play in, a bit slow at times because we’d have preferred it if it had sped up. It’s been a good tour for us, the boys stuck together.

“It wasn’t the end result we wanted but we got the one win out here that hasn’t happened before which is huge.”

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