Wales flanker Josh Navidi is counting himself fortunate that a freak injury has not ended his World Cup dream.
Navidi suffered a dislocated elbow just six days after starring in Wales’ Six Nations Grand Slam-sealing victory over Ireland last month.
The Cardiff Blues back rower has been ruled out for up to 12 weeks, but the 28-year-old knows the injury could have had far more serious consequences with a World Cup in Japan approaching fast.
“I spoke to (Blues teammate) Blaine Scully and he said he was out for six months with a similar injury,” Navidi said.
“I was quite taken aback that I’d come off quite lucky.
“Luckily I spoke to Blaine after the diagnosis – I’m glad that I hadn’t spoken to him before!
“This could have been a lot worse, and I’m thankful that I will be ready for World Cup camp.”
Navidi’s season came to a premature end inside two minutes of the Blues’ Guinness PRO14 derby against the Scarlets on March 22.
He was attempting to clean out a ruck when his arm was struck from behind by Blues scrum-half Tomos Williams.
“It was one of the worst things I’ve felt on a pitch,” Navidi said.
“When I heard that noise I thought ‘something’s gone on here’ and I was rolling around on the floor like an ant with my legs in the air.
“I didn’t know what to do but, fair play to the medical staff, they got it (elbow) back in within 30 seconds.
“I was taken to the treatment room and given a pain-killer pen, but it just felt as if I was getting drunk.
“The pain wasn’t going so I went home and had a couple of whiskies!”
Navidi had a two-hour operation the following week to reattach his forearm muscles to the bone.
His left arm will remain in a brace for the next four weeks, but he is expected to take a full role when Wales’ World Cup preparation starts with a July camp at Fiesch in the Swiss Alps.
That will come as a relief to head coach Warren Gatland as Navidi played such an important role in the Six Nations title triumph when Wales extended their run of consecutive victories to a record 14 games.
“You want to be fresh for those camps to get your body right for the World Cup and give yourself every chance to go for it,” said Navidi, who made his Wales debut in Japan in 2013.
“I’ve been out there at the Under-20 World Cup as well. It’s such a nice country and it will be great to play at a World Cup there.
“With the run of wins we’ve had it’s all about keeping the momentum going right through the World Cup.
“We’ve got a bigger mountain to climb now, but we’ve just got to keep on going.”
Ireland prop Jack McGrath will leave Leinster for Ulster after this autumn’s World Cup in order to improve his international prospects.
McGrath, who is contracted to the Irish Rugby Football Union, has won 57 caps but has slipped behind provincial colleague Cian Healy in the loosehead pecking order following the veteran’s resurgence.
“This was a difficult decision but one I believe will put me in the best position to continue to perform at the top end of the game,” said McGrath, who suffered a hip injury at the start of the season.
“I have enjoyed a huge amount of success at Leinster but I feel that looking beyond the World Cup to the next phase of my career I will benefit from the opportunity within the Ulster environment.”
“I’m now fully fit after a disrupted start to the season and am looking forward to putting all my energy into helping Leinster’s drive to defend the European and PRO14 titles and finishing this season on a high.”
McGrath has won three Six Nations titles with Ireland and two European titles with Leinster.
IRFU performance director David Nucifora said: “Jack has made a very tough decision which he believes will advance his case for selection for Ireland. You have to respect a player with such ambition.
“Leinster is a fantastic environment but it is testament to the work that all four provinces are doing that players are seeking opportunities within Ireland to advance their international careers.”
Provided by Press Association Sport
Ireland’s quest to win a first World Cup has suffered a major setback after Dan Leavy was ruled out of the tournament by a knee injury described by Leinster as “complex”.
Leavy lasted only 11 minutes of Saturday’s Champions Cup quarter-final victory over Ulster before he was carried from the pitch on a stretcher having replaced Sean O’Brien in the second-half.
The 24-year-old openside had just recovered from the long-term calf injury that forced him to miss the recent Six Nations in which Ireland surrendered their crown to Wales.
Not only will Leavy be absent for the climax to Leinster’s bid to defend their European title, he will also sit out Japan 2019 to rehabilitate an injury that will require long-term medical attention.
“Leinster can confirm that Dan Leavy had an initial scan yesterday on a complex knee ligament injury but needs further assessment this week,” his province announced.
“He has been ruled out for the remainder of the season and into next season to include the World Cup.”
Leavy was superb throughout last year’s Six Nations as Ireland completed the Grand Slam, but has struggled with injury in the wake of the subsequent summer tour to Australia.
“Dan worked so hard to get himself back and physically fit,” Leinster scrum coach John Fogarty said.
“He’s such a huge threat on either side of the ball, gives the team a lot confidence so it’s a big loss for Leinster and Irish Rugby. He’ll make a plan now to get himself back.”