Ellis Jenkins ready to receive first Wales call in three years, Josh Navidi set to miss out

By Matthew Southcombe

Ellis Jenkins will be ready to play for Wales for the first time in three years, if the call comes on Wednesday.

The 28-year-old has been managed very carefully through his return to rugby after suffering a serious knee injury that kept him out of the game for over two years.

But he started the first two Cardiff games of the season, turning in impressive performances against both Connacht and Ospreys.

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Then he was left out of the squad altogether for the defeat to the Bulls last Saturday, sparking fears he may not be ready for Test rugby.

However, Director of Rugby Dai Young insists it was just a case of routine squad rotation and that he’d have no issue with Jenkins receiving a call-up from Wales boss Wayne Pivac tomorrow.

“I’ve got no qualms about Ellis going into that environment and playing at that level but that wouldn’t change the fact we’d look after him prior to that,” said Young.

“That’s not just Ellis, it’s any player. We try to rotate three or four players every game, even if it’s someone from the bench.

“Ellis has obviously come back and played a couple of games. We want to make sure we don’t overplay him in the early part of the season.”

Though he is not nailed on to receive a call-up, his readiness will be a boost for Pivac, who is set to be without Josh Navidi, as well as Justin Tipuric and James Botham.

Navidi suffered a shoulder injury two minutes into his first Cardiff appearance of the season over the weekend and is looking at another extended spell on the sideline, having missed the Rainbow Cup with the same injury.

“Obviously, as you saw on the weekend, he went off with what looked like a nasty shoulder injury,” said Young.

“He’s had a scan and is seeing the specialist tonight. We’ll know a bit more tonight but it’s looking like he may need to have [surgical] intervention.

“He looks like he’s going to be out for a while.

“He doesn’t know [how long] but it’s safe to say that it doesn’t look like it’s going to resolve itself in the next couple of weeks.

“Whether the consultant feels that an intervention is needed or just extensive rehab, I’m not sure."

The fact that Navidi suffered an injury so early into his return raised questions over whether or not he was ready to return after a heavy workload over the summer months.

But Young insisted the injury was a freak incident.

“You’ve got to remember that he did a full Lions tour, had five weeks off and then another five weeks of training,” explained Young.

“He came back from the Lions tour with a bit of a leg niggle. He was passed fit for the summer and he came through the Lions unscathed with regards to his shoulder.

“We had no cause for concern with his shoulder at all. If you look at the incident, he made the tackle and the back-rower just came down on the back of his shoulder.

“He could probably play for another three seasons and not get that same incident again.

“It’s very hard to replicate exactly what happened. It’s one of those things.

“It’s disappointing for him because his shoulder injury wasn’t something that we had any concerns over. His shoulder had been rehabbed and he’d got over it.”

There was better news over the fitness of fly-half Jarrod Evans, though, who looks to be nearing a return.

He suffered a sternum injury in the opening round of action and is progressing nicely through his rehab.

This weekend’s clash against the Sharks is likely to come too soon but Young is convinced he’ll be ready to face the Dragons a week Saturday.

That would also be a boost for Wales boss Pivac, who is short of fly-half options for the All Blacks game on October 30 with Dan Biggar and Callum Sheedy unavailable.

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“Jarrod’s on modified training this week and doing more with every session,” explained Young.

“We think he’ll run out of time for this week’s selection but I’m 100 percent confident that he’ll be available for next week.

“It’s good news. It’s quicker than we anticipated but it’s something that you have to respect and make sure you’re spending adequate time to ensure he’s fully over it.”

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