Wales coach Wayne Pivac has entrusted a youthful XV to get the side back on a winning run
By making 13 changes and handing out potentially four Test debuts, Wayne Pivac has entrusted Wales’ young players to end the team’s six-game losing run when they face Georgia on Saturday.
Scrum-half Kieran Hardy and centre Johnny Williams both make their debuts as does flanker James Botham, the grandson of England cricket great Lord Botham. Bristol back Ioan Lloyd, 19, could win a first cap off the bench.
Speaking of Botham, who was called up officially for the first time this week, Pivac explained the coaches had been impressed by his temperament.
"Players come in, you have attack, defence and skills coaches and some will say they like him with the ball in hand and others might say he has work to do defensively. With this particular player, everyone has been impressed with what he has brought to the table. We’re all thinking the same thing – one, the guy can handle it and two, we want to give him a go."
Outside of Liam Williams at full-back, with 65 caps, the rest of Wales’ youthful backline average only two caps each. One of those players is Gloucester’s 19-year-old wing Louis Rees-Zammit, who makes a first Test start.
"I am excited, and he is very excited himself. I can assure you of that," Pivac said of Rees-Zammit. "He has worked very hard and continues to work hard. I think he has realised that, being in his second camp, there is a lot of hard work on the training field that has to be done and it is a big step up."
Pivac added he hopes No 8 Taulupe Faletau will be fit to face England after suffering a knee injury, but centre Jonathan Davies will not be ready in time for next weekend after a knock. Back-rows Ross Moriarty and Josh Navidi were also not fit enough to be selected against Georgia.