Autumn Nations Cup: Flanker James Botham to make Wales debut against Georgia

James Botham takes on England Under-20s in 2017
James Botham takes on England U20s' Ben Earl at the 2017 Junior World Championship
Autumn Nations Cup: Wales v Georgia
Venue: Parc y Scarlets Date: Sat, 21 Nov Kick-off: 17:15 GMT
Coverage: Live text and BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru & BBC Radio 5 Live commentary on the BBC Sport website and app; live on S4C

Cardiff Blues flanker James Botham will make his Wales debut in the Autumn Nations Cup game against Georgia.

The grandson of cricket great Lord Botham was only called up to the squad on Monday alongside versatile back Johnny McNicholl, who also starts.

Botham joins centre Johnny Williams and scrum-half Kieran Hardy as new caps among 13 personnel changes from the team defeated by Ireland.

Only flanker Justin Tipuric, who leads the side, and Liam Williams remain.

Tipuric captains Wales for the second time in internationals as he takes over in the role from 150-cap veteran lock and fellow Osprey Alun Wyn Jones.

Bristol fly-half Callum Sheedy and Gloucester wing Louis Rees-Zammit make their first starts.

There will also be a first cap for 19-year-old Bristol back Ioan Lloyd if he comes off the replacements bench.

Wales coach Wayne Pivac always said he would make sweeping changes from the team that suffered a sixth successive defeat in the 32-9 loss in Dublin.

Tipuric lines up in the back-row alongside number eight Aaron Wainwright and Botham, who is included for the first time despite only having played 13 professional games.

Wayne Pivac explains his sweeping changes ahead of Wales' match with Georgia

Botham, 22, the son of former Cardiff wing Liam Botham, was born in Cardiff and came through the Wales age grade system.

"We had a good look at James, he has impressed and done very well," said Pivac.

"He is a player with a very big future, we believe."

Elsewhere Liam Williams switches from wing to full-back where he is joined by Rees-Zammit and McNicholl in the back three.

George North, who celebrated 100 internationals against Ireland, is in line to play for Ospreys this Sunday in the Pro14 against Benetton in Swansea.

Johnny Williams will make his Wales debut by partnering another former England Under-20s centre Nick Tompkins in the Wales midfield.

Williams made the transition from Newcastle to Scarlets earlier this year and qualifies for Wales through his father. He has also battled back from testicular cancer.

Williams and Sheedy actually played for England last year against Barbarians in a non-cap match at Twickenham.

Sheedy joins Scarlets scrum-half Hardy at half-back, but while new as a Wales partnership, they played 12 games together for English second-tier club Jersey Reds in 2017.

At the time Sheedy was on loan from Bristol Bears while Hardy spent two seasons at Jersey before returning to the Scarlets for 2018-19.

Dragons hooker Elliot Dee packs down with Scarlets props Wyn Jones and Samson Lee, with Jake Ball and Seb Davies completing the front-five.

"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 Wayne 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."

Patchell's head knocks

Scarlets fly-half Rhys Patchell has been sent back to his region after suffering injury knocks during the autumn period.

Scarlets centre Jonathan Davies and Bath number eight Taulupe Faletau were both unavailable for selection against Georgia because of injury.

Davies suffered a knee medial problem against Ireland and is battling to be fit for the final game of the tournament on 5 December and is in danger of missing the England encounter on 28 November.

Faletau is expected to be fit for the England game after his own knee issue, while flanker Josh Navidi is in contention for his first game of the autumn campaign as he recovers from concussion.

But Dragons back-rower Ross Moriarty is struggling to recover from an ankle injury.

Georgia make five changes from their defeat against England with lock Kote Mikautadze winning his 65th cap after being given time off to sort out his move to Bayonne.

Four players return after starting the Lelos' previous match in Scotland - their most experienced scrum-half Vasil Lobzhanidze, 87-cap winger Sandro Todua, hooker Jaba Bregvadze, and flanker Otar Giorgadze.

Eight of the starting 15 are currently with French clubs, including Brive half-backs Lobzhanidze and Tedo Abzhandadze, and six of the forwards.

Wales: Liam Williams; Johnny McNicholl, Nick Tompkins, Johnny Williams, Louis Rees-Zammit; Callum Sheedy, Kieran Hardy; Wyn Jones, Elliot Dee, Samson Lee, Jake Ball, Seb Davies, James Botham, Justin Tipuric (capt), Aaron Wainwright.

Replacements: Sam Parry, Nicky Smith, Leon Brown, Cory Hill, James Davies, Rhys Webb, Ioan Lloyd, Jonah Holmes.

Georgia: Lasha Khmaladze; Akaki Tabutsadze, Giorgi Kveseladze, Merab Sharikadze (capt), Sandro Todua; Tedo Abzhandadze, Vasil Lobzhanidze; Mikheil Nariashvili, Jaba Bregvadze, Beka Gigashvili, Grigor Kerdikoshvili, Kote Mikautadze, Otar Giorgadze, Beka Saginadze, Beka Gorgadze.

Replacements: Giorgi Chkoidze, Guram Gogichashvili, Lexo Kaulashvili, Lasha Jaiani, Giorgi Tkhilaishvili, Gela Aprasidze, Demur Tapladze, Tamaz Mchedlidze.


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