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Navidi ready to embrace South African atmosphere in front of capacity Pretoria crowd

International | 29th June 2022

Josh Navidi is ready to embrace the famous South African atmosphere as Wales prepare to take on the Springboks in front of a capacity Pretoria crowd on Saturday.

The Loftus Versfeld Stadium - home to URC outfit Vodacom Bulls - is sold out for the first of three summer Tests between South Africa and Wales.

Navidi returns to the Rainbow Nation for the first time since last year’s British and Irish Lions series, where the Springboks triumphed in empty stadiums due to the impact of lockdowns in the country.

However, with only three days until matchday, the Cardiff back row reveals he has enjoyed a return to normality this summer.

Speaking on the Scrum V Podcast, Navidi said: “It will be massive to have the crowds back. Last year there was no-one in the crowd except for the boys who were on the sidelines.

“But it will be nice to see the crowds back, filling the seats and being able to experience the atmosphere will be amazing.

“I’ve never played at Loftus Versfeld, but speaking to the boys who have they all say it’s amazing.

“It’s nice to experience different stadiums around the world, and we’ve been lucky enough to travel around.

“It’s different compared to last year, when the country was under lockdown and we couldn’t go out as much.

“But it’s nice to see people out and about, and everyone turning back into normal life. We’re able to go down to the mall, have a look around and see a lot more than we were able to last year.

“During that time we only saw the four walls of the hotel, which was a shame. We’d go out and about every now and again, but couldn’t leave the bus. We did do a safari, but this time it’s nice because we can go out, play a bit of golf and enjoy a bit more of the culture.

“Everywhere we go, we’re getting stopped by people, telling us how buzzing they are about having us here. It’s nice to see how warm they are.

“Even in the gym we’re training in, people are asking for photos and wishing us the best - although not too much good luck! 

“It’s nice to see, and there’s a good atmosphere here already so now we’re just looking forward to the Tests.

“It’s very similar to Wales in terms of their passion for rugby. They’re very humble and it’s always nice to have people coming up to you to speak about the games, the Springboks.”


There’s no doubt that facing the world champions in their own back yard will present a formidable challenge for Wayne Pivac and his squad, 

However, Navidi is fully focused on proving the doubters wrong and is ready to go toe-to-toe with a South African outfit known for their physicality, power and ruthlessness.

The academy product added: “We’re coming here to get three wins. I know people will put us down, but you’ve got to back yourself and that’s how I’ve always played.

“We’re going out there to win, no matter who you’re playing against, and that’s how I’ve always seen it. Hopefully we’ll prove people wrong.

“You know what they’ll bring - a big pack, a physical team and they’ve also got a great backline. 

“The way they play the game means they’re very physical, are always on top of you and always compete for everything.

“We’ve tried to get our mindset ready for what’s coming, and they’re coming to hunt.

“It’s going to be a tough old game. I’ve played against them a couple of times now, and with the calibre of players they’ve got they’re number one for a reason. But hopefully we can do a job on them.

“It’s always tough to play rugby here, and altitude always plays a massive factor. 

“When you first play at altitude, you’ll find that you’re short of breath and it becomes more difficult to do stuff as your legs become heavy.

“But we’ve done a done a lot of preparations beforehand and also come out here early, so hopefully that will sort of blow away the cobwebs. The longer you’re here, the more you get used to it and you acclimatise.

“It can be a horrific place if you’re coming straight into altitude, without training for it, because it does have a huge effect on your body and energy systems.”