Wales and Cardiff flanker Josh Navidi has been forced to announce his immediate retirement from rugby because of a serious neck problem.

Navidi sustained the injury while making his 33rd appearance for Wales in their third Test against South Africa in July last year and he has been unable to make a sufficient recovery.

The 32-year-old, who travelled with the British and Irish Lions to South Africa in 2021 without being capped, has therefore announced the end of a distinguished playing career.

“It is with great sadness but also an immense amount of pride that I am announcing my retirement from rugby,” Navidi said in a statement on Cardiff’s website.

“Although I knew this day would come eventually, I don’t think I was ever really able to prepare myself for how difficult it would be to put into words just how much of an impact the game has had on my life.”

Navidi, who made 184 appearances for Cardiff, helped Wales clinch three Six Nations crowns, including the Grand Slam in 2019, while he was part of the side that reached the World Cup semi-finals that year.

“I will certainly miss playing but I am very proud of everything I have achieved in my career, whether with Cardiff, Wales or the British and Irish Lions,” he said.

“I’m now looking forward to the next chapter beyond rugby.”