James Botham, grandson of cricket legend Ian, to make Wales rugby debut against Georgia

Cardiff Blues player – who is son of former professional cricket, rugby union and rugby league player Liam – picked by coach Pivac for Saturday's Autumn Nations Cup match

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Ben Evans/Huw Evans/Shutterstock (11019813h)
James Botham during training.
Wales Rugby Training - 17 Nov 2020

Wayne Pivac said James Botham had a "very big future" after handing the grandson of England cricket legend Ian a Wales rugby debut for Saturday's Autumn Nations Cup match at home to Georgia.

Botham, a former Wales Under-20 international who plays for Cardiff Blues, is the son of Liam Botham – cricket star Botham's only son and himself a former professional cricket, rugby union and rugby league player, who appeared for Cardiff in the 1990s.

The 22-year-old Botham is one of three uncapped players named by Pivac for a behind closed doors match in Llanelli that sees Wales attempting to end a damaging run of six straight defeats.

"We had a good look at James earlier in the campaign," Wales coach Pivac told reporters. "He has impressed, he has done very well.

"In Ross Moriarty and Josh Navidi, we've had a couple of guys who have not been able to partake so far, so James has been in and around the group. He is a player with a very big future, we believe."

Scrum-half Kieran Hardy and centre Johnny Williams will also earn their first caps in a game Pivac will be desperate to win, with Wales on their worst run since 2012.

Full-back Liam Williams to one side, the Wales backline is an experimental one, with fly-half Callum Sheedy and winger Louis Rees-Zammit both making their first starts for their country.

An experienced front-row of Wyn Jones, Elliot Dee and Samson Lee are named with Jake Ball and Seb Davies packing down in the second-row.

Botham debuts in the back-row alongside captain Justin Tipuric and Aaron Wainwright.

Only Liam Williams and Tipuric remain from the starting side hammered 32-9 by Ireland last week, with Tipuric named skipper in the absence of the rested Alun Wyn Jones.

Wales, for all their recent woes, will still be huge favourites to beat a Georgia side thrashed 40-0 by England at Twickenham.

But that has not stopped Pivac from fielding an unfamiliar side. "Some of it is forced through injury to unavailability, but the plan has always been to utilise the squad," said the former Scarlets coach.

"By the time this game passes, everyone in the squad would have had an opportunity, both in training and a match situation."