Wayne Pivac set to hand Wales debut to James Botham against Georgia

Wayne Pivac
Wayne Pivac (PA Archive)
19:51pm, Wed 18 Nov 2020
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James Botham – grandson of England cricket great Sir Ian Botham – looks set to make his Wales debut on Saturday.

Cardiff Blues flanker Botham, 22, was only called into the Wales squad on Monday.

But Wales had already identified him as a player of possible 2023 World Cup potential, and an early chance to impress could be handed him in the Autumn Nations Cup clash against Georgia at Parc y Scarlets.

Scarlets backs Johnny Williams and Kieran Hardy are also potential debutants, while first Test starts await Bristol fly-half Callum Sheedy and 19-year-old Gloucester wing Louis Rees-Zammit

Wales head coach Wayne Pivac is expected to name a much-changed starting XV on Thursday from the one beaten 32-9 by Ireland last week.

Pivac’s pre-planned selection approach to the Georgia game appears unlikely to change, despite Wales being on a run of six successive losses, which is their worst sequence of results since 2012.

Sheedy, meanwhile, has been described as “a massive asset to any team” ahead of his likely first Wales starting role.

Callum Sheedy (PA Wire)

Sheedy, who made his Wales debut as a second-half substitute in the Ireland match, is likely to be handed the number 10 shirt.

Sheedy excelled for Bristol last season, playing a pivotal role as they reached the Gallagher Premiership play-offs, before kicking 22 points when he inspired a European Challenge Cup final victory over Toulon.

And Sheedy’s Bristol boss Pat Lam has no doubt that the 25-year-old will relish his opportunity if it comes this weekend.

“I am really excited and really proud of him,” Bristol rugby director Lam said.

Pat Lam (PA Wire)

“He is on this journey, and I think the big thing is – take away the rugby – Callum is the greatest person. He is so coachable, and as I said to Wayne (Pivac) he is a player that is a massive asset to any team.

“I think the big thing for Callum, and I had a chat to him yesterday, is making sure that the guys around him trust him, have no fear and they connect well. And that’s what he is good at. Our game is not about a 10 running everything.

“It is about a collective and making sure that if Liam Williams wants a cross-kick, tell Callum and he will give you one. If (Nick) Tompkins or Jonathan Davies asks to put the grubber-kick through, just tell him, he will do it.”

Cardiff-born Sheedy also qualified for Ireland via his parents and England on residency – he represented England in a non-cap game against the Barbarians last year – before opting for Wales and being named in Pivac’s latest squad.

He will do whatever it takes for the team

Lam added: “Talking to Wayne, he has fitted in really well in the group. He is magnetic, and because of his character the guy will never struggle making friends.

“He is a really approachable and open guy, but I know what he will stress to the guys, if he’s selected, is that it is about the here and the now, it’s not about what has gone before.

“He will be excited about the opportunity if he gets the chance, but he will pull those guys around him and I know the key message he will say is, ‘I need you fellas. I need you guys’. And he will do whatever it takes for the team.”

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