James Botham – grandson of England cricket great Sir Ian Botham – will make his Wales debut in Saturday’s Autumn Nations Cup clash against Georgia.
The 22-year-old Cardiff Blues flanker was called up to Wales’ squad on Monday and he has played just 13 professional games for the capital region.
But Cardiff-born Botham, whose father Liam played rugby union and rugby league for a number of clubs, is among three newcomers selected to face Georgia alongside Scarlets backs Johnny Williams and Kieran Hardy.
2023 World Cup potential
Wales’ coaching staff had already identified Botham as a player of possible 2023 World Cup potential, but his chance has come far sooner than expected.
And he is the latest international rugby player off the production line at Sedbergh School in Cumbria, with Botham’s fellow former pupils including ex-England captain Will Carling, World Cup-winning England centre Will Greenwood and current Wales prop Tomas Francis.
Former London Irish and Newcastle centre Williams, meanwhile, was diagnosed with testicular cancer last year and underwent chemotherapy before returning to professional rugby 10 months ago.
He represented England and scored a try in a non-cap game against the Barbarians in 2019, but qualifies for Wales through his father, who hails from Rhyl.
There are further milestones in the starting line-up as Wales continue to look to the future and build for the next Rugby World Cup cycle, with Callum Sheedy and 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, who trained with the national squad as part of this year’s Six Nations, will make his debut in the back-row, alongside captain Justin Tipuric and Aaron Wainwright.
𝗧𝗘𝗔𝗠 𝗡𝗘𝗪𝗦 ⫶ Three uncapped players in starting XV to face @GeorgianRugby 🇬🇪
🆕 ⫶ 𝗕𝗼𝘁𝗵𝗮𝗺 (6), 𝗛𝗮𝗿𝗱𝘆 (9), 𝗪𝗶𝗹𝗹𝗶𝗮𝗺𝘀 (12) ⊕ 𝗟𝗹𝗼𝘆𝗱 (22)⠀
① ⫶ Dechreuad cyntaf i 𝗦𝗵𝗲𝗲𝗱𝘆 a 𝗥𝗲𝗲𝘀-𝗭𝗮𝗺𝗺𝗶𝘁
— Welsh Rugby Union 🏉 (@WelshRugbyUnion) November 19, 2020
Wales: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Nick Tompkins, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Louis Rees-Zammit, 10 Callum Sheedy, 9 Kieran Hardy, 8 Aaron Wainwright, 7 Justin Tipuric (c), 6 James Botham, 5 Seb Davies, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Wyn Jones
Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Nicky Smith, 18 Leon Brown, 19 Cory Hill, 20 James Davies, 21 Rhys Webb, 22 Ioan Lloyd, 23 Jonah Holmes
Date: Saturday, November 21
Venue: Parc y Scarlets
Kick-off: 17:15 GMT
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant referees: Andrew Brace, Frank Murphy
Television match official: Joy Neville