Keen car mechanic Josh Navidi is hoping to put a spanner in the works of South Africa’s  Rugby World Cup 2023 preparations when Wales visits the country for a three-test series in July.

Wales have never won a test on South African soil before and head into their summer on the back of a disappointing Six Nations campaign and with a number of prominent players injured.

However, they will be all the better for having Cardiff strongman Navidi fit again and in their back row for what promises to be a thorough examination of their own Rugby World Cup credentials.

The iconic Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria will stage the opening test on Saturday 2 July. From there Wayne Pivac’s squad will head to the Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein on 9 July before rounding off the series at DHL Stadium in Cape Town on Saturday 16 July.

“We know the type of game South Africa will bring. They’ve got a lot of threats around the park, especially their back three, so it’s about keeping them quiet,” said the flanker with 30 caps to his name in an interview with World Rugby.

“But obviously South Africa have got a great pack so it's about us fronting up with them and trying to take away South Africa’s driving maul, scrum, and trying to keep them on the back foot instead of us.”

Navidi, 31, had five months out between November and March due to a serious shoulder injury

But he managed to make it back on the pitch in time to play in Wales’ final two Six Nations fixtures against France and Italy.

And now he is ready to play his part in what should be an epic series against the reigning world champions.

“It’s massive. To go out and go against the world champions is huge for us, with three tough tests, one in Jo’burg, one in Bloemfontein, and then we finish in Cape Town,” he said.

“You want to be playing against the best teams in the world and South Africa are one of them.

“I enjoyed it with the Lions going out there, but it would be good to experience it with fans because everyone's back now so it'd be nice to experience South Africa properly.”

“A special occasion”

Navidi, a late call-up to the British and Irish Lions squad, played in two games on that tour – against the Sharks and South Africa A.

It gave him an insight into the challenges of playing in South Africa, from a physical point of view.

“I think the altitude will be a big factor, that was the big thing for me.

“Last time we faced them was in the World Cup in the semi-finals and it's a different game when they are playing at home and especially when they’ve got the fans there.

“It's going to be a special occasion and to get three tests against them is something to really look forward to, so I can't wait really.”

For injured rugby players, time on the sidelines can be tough, as you can’t do what you are paid to do and the camaraderie on and off the pitch is sorely missed.

But for well-rounded individuals like Navidi, with plenty of interests outside of the game, it’s easier to keep things in perspective.

One of his hobbies is fixing up old cars and given half a chance Navidi would spend as much time with his head under a bonnet as he would at the breakdown.

“I’ve got a car business, I tinker with cars, try to repair cars and my own cars, it keeps your mind outside of rugby.

“A lot of boys do focus a lot on rugby and when it comes to injury time that's when you feel pressure because you want to be back playing and you do miss it when you see the boys out there playing.

“I’ve always had loads of interests, I used to BMX when I was younger, I like motorsports, extreme sports, and surfing I do a lot.

“I kind of like having something different compared to rugby. I can just completely switch off.”