Wales' Botham confident of family backing against England

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Ian Botham
Ian Botham
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Wales flanker James Botham has no doubt his family will be supporting him when he faces England on Saturday.

The 22-year-old grandson of England cricket great Ian Botham will win just his second cap when he runs out against the Six Nations champions in Llanelli.

Cardiff-born Botham, now playing for the Welsh capital club as his father Liam did before him, had a heartening debut as Wales ended a run of six straight defeats with victory over Georgia last weekend.

But a far sterner test awaits against a formidable England back-row of Billy Vunipola, Sam Underhill and Tom Curry at Parc Y Scarlets.

"I can't wait," Botham said Thursday. "It's a dream come true. I have dreamt about this moment since I was a kid, chucking a ball around.

"Words can't really describe it. You work for something your whole life and this is probably the one thing I have worked for my whole life, to get the jersey on and play against England."

He added: "Obviously, everyone gives me stick about the family being English and stuff, but in my heart it's Wales through and through, and the family know that. Hopefully, I will do everyone proud.

"It is doing my own thing and creating my own legacy.

"I did play a bit of cricket when I was younger, but rugby has definitely always been the one for me.

"I am sure he (Ian Botham) will be backing me 100 percent even though I haven't got the white (England) jersey he supports on."

Saturday's match will see Botham moving from blindside to openside flanker after Justin Tipuric was ruled out with a head injury suffered against Georgia.

A good performance this weekend is sure to strengthen Botham's chances of remaining in Wales coach Wayne Pivac's squad for the 2021 Six Nations.

"The Georgia game was a big step up from playing for the (Cardiff) Blues," said Botham. "It's going to be an even bigger step up this weekend.

"It's just dealing with that and getting on with it.

"We know what the English back-row are going to come with, the intensity they are going to come with, we know what they do. I just want to focus on myself, really, and do my team-mates proud.

"I prefer to play seven (openside). Playing with Shane (Lewis-Hughes) at six will be great. I just want to bring some physicality over the ball and with the ball, so it will be good to play with him again."

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