Josh Navidi is ready to embrace the moment as he becomes Wales’ 138thcaptain in tomorrow’s Summer Series showdown against Ireland at the Principality Stadium.
The long-serving Cardiff Blues ace had not featured in a Cardiff Test match less than two years ago, but he will lead out his country to cap a remarkable rise on the international stage.
While the versatile back-rower had consistently performed on the regional stage for Cardiff Blues, he had to wait four years after his international debut against Japan in 2013 to win his second cap.
And he has barely looked back since that 24-6 victory over Tonga, establishing himself as an almost ever-present and consistent figure in the Wales squad.
He was once again a standout performer after coming off the bench early in the 13-6 victory over England two weeks ago and he has been rewarded with his first start of the summer and the ultimate honour.
Navidi said: “It is a massive honour. I've had loads of messages from people, which is nice. My family are ecstatic as well, and it will be nice to lead the team out.
“Gats came up to me after a units session and asked me would I like to lead the team. It's something you can't turn down, really.
“I will try and keep the emotions down. It's another game of rugby, but obviously nice to lead the team out, embrace the moment and then get into it.
“I am not much of a talker, to be honest. Hopefully, I can lead from the front, and everyone else will follow.”
Navidi has stepped in as Cardiff Blues captain on a number of occasions but otherwise has limited experience of leading a team.
But he points to Cardiff Blues legends Gethin Jenkins and Matthew Rees as two of the major influences upon him.
He continued: “As a youngster I captained Bridgend Athletic, and my school. I have done it a bit with the Blues over the years too.
“Alun Wyn, I have played quite a lot with him recently, and obviously Gethin Jenkins and Matthew Rees at the Blues, and it's little things you pick up on through them. It just brings your game forward, and hopefully I can pass it on to others.
“But to be honest, I have never thought about it, with the leaders in the group with Wales.
"You have got Alun Wyn, Ken Owens and Jonathan Davies, who are massive figures in the team, and it's something that I've never thought I would come across - I thought just getting the red jersey is enough - so it will be nice."
Navidi is one of 14 changes to the starting line-up that defeated England and while you would expect the Arms Park favourite to be pencilled in to be included in the World Cup squad announced on Sunday, others are fighting for remaining places up for grabs.
Navidi said: “We’ve had a good week to be honest – there are still positions up for grabs. It’s nice for Owen Lane and Rhys Carré to get their first caps, and nice to share that with them. There is plenty to play for an opportunity for boys to show what they have got.
“The boys need to go out there and do the job. That’s the best way to do it, think about tomorrow and let Sunday take care of itself.”
One of those players is Jarrod Evans, who starts at 10 for the first time and is in a shootout with fellow Blues academy product Rhys Patchell.
Navidi added: “He’s a fantastic player that I rate really highly. As long as we get good front-foot and the ball on a plate for him then it will be happy days, and hopefully we don’t put him under too much pressure. He has the skill-set, so it’ll be nice to see him let loose at home.”