Sir Ian Botham’s grandson James is handed his Wales debut by coach Wayne Pivac after just 13 professional matches – with Johnny Williams and Kieran Hardy also given their first caps in much-changed line-up to face Georgia
Wayne Pivac will hand out at least three new caps against Georgia as James Botham, Johnny Williams and Kieran Hardy were selected to make Wales debuts this Saturday in a much-changed team.
As Sportsmail reported on Wednesdy Botham, who has only played 13 professional matches in his career, comes straight into the starting side having joined the camp on Tuesday.
The Cardiff Blues flanker, 22, is the grandson of Lord Ian Botham – the great England cricketer – and was born in Wales when father Liam played for the capital club in the 1990s.
Liam Botham – grandson of Lord Ian Botham – will make his Wales debut on Saturday
WALES TEAM TO FACE GEORGIA
L Williams; McNicholl, Tompkins, J Williams, Rees-Zammit; Sheedy, Hardy; W Jones, Dee, Lee, Ball, S Davies, Botham, Tipuric (c), Wainwright.
SUBS: Parry, Smith, Brown, Hill, J Davies, Webb, Lloyd, Holmes.
He will start wearing the No 6 jersey as Justin Tipuric, who will captain the side in the absence of Alun Wyn Jones, is at openside with Aaron Wainwright at No 8.
Botham is not the only newbie. Scarlets scrum-half Hardy, 24, starts on his first appearance too as does centre Williams, who partners Nick Tompkins in the centre.
Williams caps a remarkable comeback on Saturday as last year he was diagnosed with testicular cancer – which he later realised he had played with during his appearance for England against the Barbarians in the non-camp summer game at Twickenham.
Having recovered after chemotherapy the former London Irish man moved from Newcastle to the Scarlets where he has pushed his case for Wales, the country of his father.
Pivac promised many changes for this Georgia game despite being desperate for a first win since February, and he hands first starts to fly-half Callum Sheedy and wing Louis Rees-Zammit with Johnny McNicholl also straight in having only re-joined the squad this week. Bristol full-back Ioan Lloyd could also make a debut off the bench.
‘Saturday is a huge opportunity for the players and for us as a squad looking ahead to the future and to the 2023 World Cup,’ said Wales head coach Pivac.
‘As we have said all along, the Autumn Nations Cup is a great platform for us to give opportunities to players, to build depth and experience.
‘It’s a great honour for the new caps and the players making their first starts, they have trained well and deserve this opportunity to represent their country.’
The last developing nation Wales lost to were Japan back in 2013 – when they were beaten 23-8 in Tokyo.
While their form has been shocking over since Pivac has taken charge a defeat to Georgia would be the lowest ebb for a long time – especially as Los Lelos have been thrashed by Scotland and England recently.