Cardiff's very own Josh Navidi is preparing to make his British & Irish Lions bow on Wednesday, becoming the latest in a long line of Arms Park back rows to don the famous red jersey.
In the latest chapter of our series looking back at Blue and Black Greats, we reflect on one of Navidi's back row predecessors - Cardiff and Wales legend Martyn Williams.
Martyn Williams can justifiably be counted among the greatest and most consistent players to have worn the famous blue and black of Cardiff.
He is one of those people that would have excelled at any sport. He played football for Wales YMCA as an under 16. Rugby was always his passion and after 5 successful years at Pontypridd, including a supporting role in the Battle of Brive in 1997, he moved to Cardiff RFC in 1999. He was captain of Cardiff between 2002 and 2005 and was the first captain of the regional era. He went on to play 226 games for Cardiff scoring 150 points.
He was capped at all junior levels then went on to play for the Under 21’s and Wales A . He won 100 caps and captained Wales against Scotland at Murrayfield in 2003. As someone who always led by example, he scored two late tries out in France in 2005 that changed the game completely in favour of Wales who went on to win the Grand Slam. Martyn was named player of the tournament that year. He retired from international rugby in 2007 but was tempted back by Warren Gatland to play a key part in a second Grand Slam in 2008.
He featured prominently for Cardiff in an epic Heineken Cup semi final against Leicester at the Millennium Stadium in 2009. With the game being drawn after extra time it went to a “ penalty shoot out “ to decide the winner. The shoot out took the form of drop kicks from the 22 metre line . Martyn was unsuccessful and Cardiff were eliminated but they resolved to come back stronger. The following year he played a key role in a memorable Amlin Cup Final victory over Toulon in Marseilles.
Former South African player and Cardiff centre Pieter Muller named Martyn in his select 15 of the best players he had played with. If a wider poll was taken he would have featured in many more such teams. A man who still commands huge respect in rugby circles he went on 3 Lions tours and finally won a long awaited and much coveted Lions Cap in the final test against South Africa in 2009 that was won by the Lions.
He was awarded the MBE in 2012 for services to rugby – a real Golden Nugget in the history of Cardiff Rugby
'A History of Blue and Black - The Greats' is a series brought to you by Cardiff Blues, in association with CF10 Rugby Trust and local artist, Tim Driscoll. We look back at the life and careers of Cardiff Arms Park's most iconic figures - from the rugby team's inception in 1876 through to the 21 century and the regional era